On Wednesday I sat in the gallery of the Houses of Parliament, only yards away from Charles Kennedy's former wife Sarah, and their 10 year old son Donald, and listened to Charles Kennedy's contemporaries pay their respects to an exceptional person and in my opinion the best Leader the Lib Dems have ever had.
Charles has died far too young but will be remembered as someone who stood up for his beliefs and values, without attacking those who did not share those beliefs – he could debate and disagree without in any way disrespecting those with different views.
He was a plain speaking man, who was renowned for his humour and compassion, aptly summed up by a by line from his leadership campaign "I don't jump on bandwagons, I jump on injustice"
Charles was a kind person. I will never forget how at an event when he was campaigning to be party leader, he took the time to talk to a shy 12 year old and encourage him. This very same person went on to join the party and stand for council many years later.
Charles’ ill health meant he had to stand down as Leader and I was always one of those who hoped he would one day be well enough to take up a leading role. It is shocking that that will never happen now. The thoughts of the Liberal Democrats in Islington are with his family at the very sad time.
Islington Councillor 1998 to 2014