Tributes have been paid to Helen Eadie MSP who died suddenly on Saturday at the age of 66.
The long-serving politician had been diagnosed with cancer.
Mrs Eadie was MSP for Dunfermline East and Cowdenbeath since the inception of the Scottish Parliament 14 years ago having previously served as a local councillor.
Tributes were led by Gordon Brown MP, a lifelong colleague and friend.
He described her as ‘‘much loved and well respected throughout the county’’ - a politician who had ‘‘spent her working life serving the people of Fife.’’
Mr Brown added: ‘’Helen will be remembered as a passionate champion of social justice, putting the case for women’s equality, for youth employment and for better care of the elderly. ‘‘
Born in Stenhousemuir and educated at Larbert High School, Mrs Eadie was a graduate of the London School of Economics.
She was an active member of the Church of Scotland and served on the Scottish Parliament’s Health, Transport, Public Petitions and European and External Relations Committees.
Councillor Alex Rowley, leader of Fife Council, paid tribute to her lifetime of service.
He said; “Helen will be mourned in every community of Fife grateful for her 30 years of faithful and dedicated service first as a community worker then as councillor on Fife Region and later on the new Fife Council, and latterly for 14 years as member of the Scottish Parliament for Dunfermline East and Cowdenbeath.
“Helen grew to love, and was loved by, the people of Fife. We mourn a great citizen of Fife whose service to the people of Fife makes us very proud to have known her.’’
Ed Milliband, Labour leader, said she was ‘‘a passionate, determined and committed MSP’’ while Johann Lamont, leader of the Scottish Labour Party added: “Helen was very precious to her family. She played an important part in helping to establish the credibility of Holyrood.
“She will also be fondly remembered within the Scottish co-operative movement. Her commitment to delivering change in our communities was the essence of her political beliefs and values.
“She was her own woman who didn’t fit the political stereotype. Perhaps that’s why some underestimated her, but her difference was why she was admired by the people of her constituency.
“She will be missed by many and will be remembered across her constituency in standing up for their needs and concerns.”
Tributes also came from across the political spectrum.
Fellow Fifer Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “As fellow parliamentarians for West Fife, Helen’s intense, burning commitment to socialism was inspiring to observe.
“Although a gentle and kind lady, you did not cross Helen without suffering from the sharp end of her tongue.
“Helen made waves for her causes and her constituents.”
Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: “Helen was a committed parliamentarian and a true servant to her constituents in Fife.
“She was a wonderful, warm-hearted woman who would always go the extra mile to help someone out.
“She had friends across all parties, and Scottish politics is poorer for her passing.”
Former First Minister Henry McLeish, who served with Mrs Eadie on Fife Council in the 1980s, said: “This is a sad loss for Fife. She was always a courageous, defiant and independent advocate for her constituents which is the highest compliment that can be paid to an elected representative.”
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “My sincere condolences go to Helen Eadie’s family, friends and colleagues. Helen served the people she represented diligently over the years, first as a Fife councillor and then as MSP for Dunfermline East and Cowdenbeath.
She was a wonderful, warm-hearted woman who would always go the extra mile to help someone out. Her unbroken 14-year period at Holyrood is a not inconsiderable record of public service of which her family can be rightly proud.’’
Mrs Eadie is survived by her husband Bob, and two daughters.