Ex-Midlothian Provost Sam Campbell dies

Politics was a passion, not a career, for Sam Campbell. Picture: Julie Howden
Politics was a passion, not a career, for Sam Campbell. Picture: Julie Howden
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A FORMER provost of Midlothian, honorary freeman of the district and long-serving councillor has died in hospital at the age of 85.

Sam Campbell, who was first elected to Midlothian County Council in 1973, passed away at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after a short battle with cancer of the lymph nodes.

The political veteran is one of only five people to be declared a Freeman of Midlothian – ­joining such lofty company as Nelson Mandela, who was handed the honour in 1985.

Today family and colleagues paid tribute to a loving family man and dedicated local councillor for the small village of Danderhall.

Son Kenny Campbell, a tour operations manager for Edinburgh Bus Tours, said his father’s death had left an “irreplaceable void” in the lives of those who knew and loved him.

The 56-year-old said: “It’s a big loss. The family are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our dad. He was not only our dad, we shared him with a generation of residents in Danderhall.

“He was single minded in his determination to achieve the best for his constituents and worked tirelessly on their behalf for the local area.

“We only discovered he had the cancer about 12 hours ­before he passed away. We ­expected him to come home and were talking about making plans for that.

“We were immensely proud of him. In his generation, politicians were dedicated in their way. It’s a career now. It was never a career for my dad – it was a passion.

“His big thing was housing as he grew up in a miner’s cottage and they were not really maintained.

“We probably couldn’t ­imagine the damp and the lack of heat.

“That’s where his passion for politics came from.”

But it wasn’t all plain sailing over the course of Mr Campbell’s long career. In 2011, the former provost had a lucky escape when his car smashed into a community centre he ran after the vehicle’s accelerator jammed and he lost control.

And in 1999, shortly after he was elected provost, it emerged that he had been banished from the council’s Labour group for two years in the 1980s after it was alleged he made anti-Catholic remarks at an Orange rally. Mr Campbell later signed a declaration stating that he no longer held those views.

Councillor Adam Montgomery, another former provost, hailed the passing of one of the “best-known councillors in Scotland”.

He said: “As a local councillor, he did his best for the village. He had a really good reputation as a really good local councillor in Danderhall.”

A spokeswoman for Midlothian Council said: “We are very saddened to learn about Sam’s passing. He was a ­stalwart in his community.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com