‘He made his voice heard’ — Alex Johnstone quaich to stimulate debate in the Mearns

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Alex Johnstone speaking at Holyrood.

A competition celebrating the “great passion” of a late MSP has been launched in the Mearns.

Alex Johnstone, long-serving Conservative MSP for the North East, died aged 55 in December last year after a short illness.

His widow Linda has received an engraved quaich to be presented to the top debating talents from his home turf.

Sponsored by the English-Speaking Union (ESU) Scotland and Mearns Heritage Services the quaich was made to honour Mr Johnstone’s “significant contribution to all things Scottish” and his work for the people of Angus and the Mearns.

The quaich will be used to promote an annual debate between pupils of Mearns Academy in Laurencekirk and Mackie Academy in Stonehaven on topics of Scottish interest.

Mrs Johnstone said she attended Mearns while her husband went to Mackie.

She added: “I am delighted that his name and legacy will live on through this trophy, and hope that it will encourage a future generation of young debaters to follow in the footsteps of an inspirational servant of the north east.

“I am very pleased to accept this trophy for the purposes of debate between Mearns and Mackie Academies in Alex’s name.”

“Alex learnt his debating skills while still at school. He was passionate about the north east, the Mearns especially. He made his voice heard when debating issues and voicing concerns for the people of this area.

“This is why I feel it is a fitting tribute for him, and I am delighted that The English Speaking Union and Mearns Heritage Services have agreed to sponsor this trophy.”

MEP Ian Duncan, a close friend of Mr Johnstone and ESU Scotland’s chairman, said: “It is a privilege to support the launch of the Alex Johnstone memorial trophy, a fitting tribute to a wonderful and passionate man.

“Alex was a well-liked and much-respected figure throughout Scotland, but he will always be associated with the north east, an area that he loved so much.”

Dave Ramsay, director of Mearns Heritage Services, said, “From my very first conversation with Alex in 2008, to my last conversation with him in hospital, you could not fail to be impressed by his passion for Burns and all things Scottish, and in particular his love of the Scots language.”