Salmond in Moving Tribute to "Remarkable Man" Stuart Pratt

Former First Minister Alex Salmond has paid a moving tribute to his long time friend and election agent Stuart Pratt.

Delivering the eulogy to Stuart at his funeral service in New Pitsligo Parish Kirk the former First Minister said.

“I first met Stuart Pratt in the autumn of 1984 when I was but one of six hopefuls asked to speak at the first of many meetings to decide who was to become SNP candidate for Banff and Buchan.

As I was speaking I was aware of one burly loon sitting in the second row and as you do in a speech I spent some time pondering whether he was favourable to me or not. It was totally impossible to tell. He was completely inscrutable.

After the meeting the same young man approached me for a word and it was still impossible to tell if he was favourable since I couldn’t understand all that much of Stuart’s fast Pitsligo Doric. But I did gather that he wanted to take me on a tour of the smaller groups in the constituency in New Deer, Lonmay and Gardenstown - in the last case to the home of Walter Ironside, coal merchant, where I discovered that the Central Banffshire accent of Walter was just as impenetrable as the Central Buchan one of Stuart. As I was being questioned about my candidature on the Ironside settee I just sat nodding occasionally, taking in one word in every three and mentioning Scotland from time to time.

When we left, Stuart said to me “that wis guy clever - Walter really likit the fact thon ye didnae speakit oor much”

On that trip we struck up a friendship which has lasted almost 40 years and a partnership which was one of the most successful ever in Scottish politics - 10 election campaigns and 9 victories.

Stuart was more of a Special agent than Election agent. 

Alexander Anderson -one of generations of constituency staff who Stuart took under his wing- describes him as a cross between Niccolo Machiavelli and Yogi Bear.

In my view he was craftier than Machiavelli and kinder than Yogi……

……….So how do your measure this man’s contribution. When Stuart and I started out on that journey 38 years ago I was a candidate and we had but one councillor in the consistency - Brian Topping. The journey climaxed with me as First Minister and Stuart part of the administration of Aberdeenshire Council led by Provost Hamish Vernal, Richard Thomson and Stephen Smith.

None of that, not one single bit of it would have happened without the contribution of this remarkable man - Stuart Pratt.

Most of us here will have a memory of Stuart, a favourite story to tell and I am grateful to those who have shared theirs with me. Indeed Elsbeth Lukjanov with her young family in Australia made the point to me that Stuart had the knack of making his friendships seem unique. In fact many of the most special memories are shared by all of us, no less special but shared.

But how do you sum up the work, the friendship, the commitment to this church, to the Boys Brigade, to this community and above all, like a saltire running through a stick of Pitsligo rock, to his country - above all to Scotland?

When you really consider it the answer is obvious.

Stuart Wallace Pratt - a life of total commitment to community and to country.

That is no mean legacy and nae bad as an epitaph.”

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