Buckie SNP stalwart Peter takes step back from front line after 50 years
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AFTER more than 50 years of supporting the cause of Scottish independence, a well-known Buckie SNP activist is stepping back from front line politics.
Peter Souter, who lives on the town's Mill Crescent, joined the SNP as a teenager back in 1969 and has been a regular sight over the years delivering leaflets and canvassing. Within the party's Buckie branch he most recently served as the area organiser, a role being taken over by Francis Mair.
Although committed as ever to the cause, Mr Souter feels the time is right to take a step back from the front line.
He said: "I'm 70 now and my health has unfortunately deteriorated over the last few years, so I think the time is right to step down from branch activity.
"My mother was an SNP member and I joined the party due to my love of Scotland and all she stands for.
"The folk I've met have been one of the main things I've enjoyed about the last 51 years, I've loved every minute of it and the camaraderie we've had. I've made a lot of good friends.
"I was a fisherman for many years and we always used to try and get in on a Thursday if it was election day. One of my shipmates would go and babysit for me while I ran people to the polls.
"It was all very different when I joined, the SNP were a small party but now we're in government and have a mass membership."
With over half a century of service Mr Souter met a great many well-known faces, both locally and nationally, within the SNP.
"I've met my fair share of councillors over the years," he continued.
"Going back a few years I worked with [Buckie councillors] Frank Anderson and Hugh Munro, as well as Tom Howe [former Lennox ward], who was also good to work with. The late Bill Jappy [ex-Buckie councillor] was a bit of a character, too.
"Gordon McDonald [ex-Buckie councillor and SNP branch convener] was another person I really enjoyed working with. He's always been staunch and was very able, I always felt he could've gone further."
Also on a long list of names, which reads like a who's who, are current Moray and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSPs Richard Lochhead and Stewart Stevenson, former party leader and First Minister Alex Salmond, the late Margaret Ewing, former Moray MP Angus Robertson and local party stalwarts Ian and Joan Middleton.
Still on the 'to meet' list is the present First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.
However, the First Minister did send her best wishes and a bottle of signed Scottish Parliament whisky, delivered by Mr McDonald.
He commented: "It's great to be able to pay tribute to a party stalwart like Peter of more than 50 years standing.
"He's stayed with the party through the good times and the bad and has been an activist on many, many campaigns down the years. Peter even managed to persuade his whole family to join the SNP.
"He'll be greatly missed and we wish him all the best."
There Mr McDonald was joined by Mr Lochhead and Mr Stevenson in paying tribute to Mr Souter.
Mr Lochhead said: “Peter has been a stalwart of Buckie branch SNP for over half a century and in any organisation that is a phenomenal commitment and now in his 70s he deserves a well-earned rest!
“Before the most recent constituency boundary changes I had the privilege of representing Buckie and it was a great pleasure to campaign in the town with the support of Peter and other branch members.
“Peter has been an officer bearer in the branch and responsible for a great deal of campaign organisation and co-ordination over literally decades of political campaigning. He has always been a friendly face for other campaigners and offered encouragement and support throughout his time as an activist.”
Mr Stevenson described Mr Souter as a "passionate and dedicated" SNP activist.
“Peter has been a passionate and dedicated member of the Buckie SNP branch – working hard for more than 50 years to support the party.
"Whether that’s been chapping doors or delivering leaflets he’s been a trusted hand. He’ll be much missed but I wish him all the best in his retiral. I have no doubt he’ll still be around to help support the cause of Scottish independence.”
With his time as an activist at an end, what does the future hold for Mr Souter?
"I'll miss it, that's for sure, but it's good to see the younger ones coming through.
"The best has yet to come for Scotland."
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