LIFELONG political activist Harry Cairney can claim to have enjoyed a pint with every Labour leader of the last five decades as he steps down as president of Prestonpans Labour Club.
After 46 years on the management committee, Harry has been hailed as a “cornerstone” of the club and its work in the local community.
In his final speech to members before retiring, the 64-year-old spoke of “the privilege and the pleasure” of leading the club since 1983.
Addressing the annual general meeting last Sunday, he said: “Prestonpans Labour Club has been at the heart of the Prestonpans community and East Lothian Labour Party for over 50 years and the club played a big part in Iain Gray’s recent Holyrood election victory.
“When I joined the Labour Club’s management committee in 1970, Harold Wilson was prime minister and over the last 46 years I have enjoyed a pint in the club with every Labour leader and Labour’s three First Minsters in Holyrood.”
Brian Weddell, chairman of Prestonpans Labour Party, presented a gift from branch members and thanked Harry for his outstanding service to the Labour Party in East Lothian.
“Harry has been a fantastic ambassador for Prestonpans Labour Club and is hugely respected by Labour Party members throughout Scotland and the UK,” he said.
East Lothian MSP and former Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray also paid tribute to Mr Cairney, adding: “Harry is quite simply a legend in the Labour Club world, the Co-operative movement and the Labour Party.
“He has been a great source of support, advice and wisdom to me over the years, and I know he will be for years to come.
“The Labour club is an important part of the Prestonpans community, and Harry has been its cornerstone for decades.
“ As always, its support for me and my recent election campaign was critical to our success.
“I simply cannot thank Harry or the Labour club enough.”
Harry also has a long association with Scotmid (Scottish Midland Co-Operative Society Limited), serving as vice-president from 2009 to 2013 and as president since 2014.
Originally a board member of Prestonpans Co-operative, he was elected on to Scotmid’s East Area Board in 1995, following the merger of the two societies.
He has held various posts on East Lothian Constituency Labour Party and is a former chairman.