LORD Provost Donald Wilson today told of his pride at presenting David McLetchie with the CBE just weeks before his death.
In his role as the Queen’s representative in the Lothians, Councillor Wilson hand-delivered the honour to the former Scottish Conservative leader’s home in June.
The unusual step was taken because, by then, Mr McLetchie, was to0 ill to travel to Buckingham Palace.
The 61-year-old Lothian MSP died in the early hours of yesterday morning at St Columba’s Hospice after losing a battle with cancer.
Tributes poured in from across the political spectrum for Mr McLetchie, who led his party from 1998 until he stood down in 2005.
After receiving the CBE, Mr McLetchie said: “I am delighted, it is a great honour and it means a great deal to me and my family.
“I first stood for election more than 30 years ago and I have been fighting the Scottish Conservative cause ever since. I suspect this honour is in recognition of my perseverance if nothing else.”
A solicitor by trade, Mr McLetchie was elected to the first Scottish Parliament in 1999 as a list MSP for the Lothians.
Cllr Wilson said it had been a privilege to deliver the CBE on behalf of the Queen.
He said: “Despite being on the other side of the political divide, David and I campaigned side by side on a number of local issues and I always had the greatest of respect for him.
“It was my privilege to present him with the CBE on behalf of the Queen earlier this year, a fitting recognition for a substantial contribution to public life in Edinburgh and Scotland.
“My thoughts are with Sheila and the rest of his family.”
Mr McLetchie was a lifelong Jambo and supporters offered tributes to the politician, who held a season ticket in the Wheatfield Stand.
Former Hearts chairman and fellow fan, Lord George Foulkes, told how Mr McLetchie once served as a legal adviser to the club.
He said: “Unlike other politicians, David was a true supporter and a real fan. I would often meet him attending home games. He offered sound legal advice to the club whilst working with the law firm Tods Murray in the 80s and before he became ill he was also working with us on the Foundation of Hearts.
“He was, of course, also a very good politician and my thoughts are with his family.”
As a mark of respect, flags at the Scottish Parliament will fly at half-mast until after Mr McLetchie’s funeral.
His son James McLetchie, who was regularly seen attending matches with his father, said: “The family are devastated at the loss, but are immensely proud of the courage and dignity which he showed during his illness. He will be greatly missed.”
Mr McLetchie is survived by his wife, Sheila, 65, and son, James, 32, stepchildren Stuart and Catriona, and four grandchildren.