Tributes have been paid to one of the SNP’s “greatest champions” John MacMillan who died while chairing a monthly constituency meeting.
Mr MacMillan, 59, convener of the party’s Argyll and Bute Association, had just started the meeting on the online platform Zoom on Sunday afternoon and had made his opening remarks when concerned colleagues realised he was unwell.
Despite desperate efforts by Mr MacMillan’s wife Anne and paramedics who were called to his home, he could not be revived.
Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara said he was shocked and saddened by Mr MacMillan’s death.
He said: “With the passing of John MacMillan, the SNP has lost one of its greatest champions and the cause of Scottish independence one of its most formidable advocates.
“More than that however, we have lost a dear friend; someone who was invariably optimistic, even at the worst of times and someone whose infectious enthusiasm always spurred-on those around him.
“Like so many in Argyll & Bute SNP and the wider Yes movement, I am deeply saddened and still in shock at the news of John’s death, but I hope the his wife Anne will, in the coming weeks and months, be able to take some comfort from seeing the enormous and very genuine regard in which John was held by so many people across the party and the independence movement.”
Michael Russell, the Argyll and Bute MSP, said: “All of us who were present at the meeting, and I am sure the wider community as well, are feeling an overwhelming sense of shock and disbelief. Obviously all our thoughts are with his widow Anne at this time and our hearts go out to her given the tremendous loss she has suffered.”
Mr Russell said Mr MacMillan was a lifelong supporter of independence and, after a highly successful business career, he retired “to spend more time on the things that really mattered to him – his life with Anne, his beloved Highlands and the SNP”.
He had been active in a number of branches including Oban and became vice convenor of the constituency some years ago. He was elected to the chair last autumn but was said to have quickly made his mark.
Mr Russell added: “He had ambitious plans for the local SNP and just after Christmas he and I discussed a range of fund-raising and other events that would have taken us through to the 2021 election.
“The implementation of the Covid-19 lockdown prevented all that coming to fruition but he rapidly instituted monthly Zoom constituency meetings, encouraged branches to keep active, took charge of the current Holyrood candidate selection process and made sure the CA kept functioning.
“Working closely with him as the constituency MSP I was always grateful for his attention to detail. He made sure that the local party organisation was well managed and focused on achieving independence and I only wish he was going to be with us to see that job completed.
“John will be greatly missed by me and by many as a valued colleague and a friend.”
Councillor Richard Trail, secretary of the SNP Group on Argyll and Bute Council, praised Mr MacMillan’s “dynamic and can-do spirit”.
He said: “He would happily go out of his way to help others and only saw problems as a spur to find solutions.”
During lockdown, many organisations and businesses are using computer applications such as Zoom to conduct meetings and conferences online.