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OBIT: Tributes to SNP stalwart and political enthusiast

Stewart Stevenson MSP with Bob Ritchie holding his SNP Life Membership card
Stewart Stevenson MSP with Bob Ritchie holding his SNP Life Membership card

A political enthusiast who helped set up the Fraserburgh SNP branch has died at the age of 94.

Robert Ritchie, known to most as Bob, was founding member of the Fraserburgh SNP branch and honorary presidents of the Peterhead branch.

Mr Ritchie campaigned across the north-east since the 1960s for the nationalists and, at one time, narrowly missed out on standing for a seat – decided on a coin toss.

He instead acted as the party’s first election agent in the 1964 general election – the first year that the SNP contested a parliamentary election in Buchan.

Last night Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson paid tribute to Mr Ritchie, who he had presented with life membership at the age of 91.

Mr Stevenson said: “Bob was a stalwart of the SNP in Buchan for decades and an inspiration to many activists locally over the years.

“Bob holds a place in history as the first-ever SNP election agent in this area when the party decided to contest the old east Aberdeenshire seat at the 1964 election.

“Bob tells a story that he narrowly avoided being the candidate at that election because he won the toss of a coin and chose to be the agent.

“At that 1964 election, the SNP got 6% of the vote and 1900 votes.

“It is thanks to the hard work and dedication of people like Bob in those early days that the party was able to put down such solid foundations to build on locally.

“I had the pleasure of presenting Bob with lifetime membership of the party a few years ago and enjoyed his reminisces about past election campaigns.

“He will be missed by everyone in the SNP and my thoughts are with his wife Beatrice and family at this time.”

In his Press and Journal column in 2015, Alex Salmond wrote about Mr Ritchie’s book Scotland in 1958.

At the time, he said: “Describing Bob as a stalwart doesn’t actually give him the full credit he is due.

“Bob has been campaigning for the SNP even before we were able to field candidates in the north-east of Scotland.”

Mr Ritchie, who worked at General Motors in Peterhead, died on September 21 at Peterhead Community Hospital.

He is survived by his wife Beatrice Rae, sons Niall and Iain, daughters-in-law Aileen and Sheila as well as grandchildren Elena, Ailsa, Grant and Gavin.

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