LIKE every newspaper in the land since the coronavirus pandemic hit Scotland, The National has been struggling to combat falling print sales and decreased advertising revenue.

We are so grateful to our faithful readers who have dug into their pockets to back the only Scottish daily newspaper that supports independence. We will continue to bring you the news and views we know you want – and yes, we can’t wait for a second independence referendum either.

That will come after the pandemic reduces to the status of “manageable’ but in the meantime we have formed a new alliance with the Scottish Independence Foundation (SIF), which has generously agreed to support The National in this time of what really is an existential crisis for us.

We co-operated successfully in putting on The National’s highly successful rally in George Square in Glasgow in November, and the connection between SIF and ourselves has grown since then. In the coming weeks, SIF will be contributing a weekly column, starting tomorrow with Willie Wilson writing for us. He is convener of SIF and a long-term supporter of independence.

For those who are not aware of SIF’s work, it began almost two years ago when a group of prominent independence supporters got together and discussed the long-term approach to bringing the Yes movement to fruition and delivering a future for Scotland as an independent country.

With considerable perspicacity, the founders, such as Wilson, Dr Ian Grant and Kenny Braes, realised that funding the Yes movement at every level, but especially the grassroots, would enable that movement to grow, and since June 2018 that has been their cause, indeed their vocation, as they see it as almost a duty to step up and support Yessers everywhere. SIF launched with the phenomenal support of The Proclaimers, who continue to back SIF.

READ MORE: The growing list of Yes groups being supported by the SIF

Greg McCarra is now the chief executive of SIF and, under the board of which he is a member, the organisation has raised a six-figure sum and funded many events such as marches and gatherings as well as providing Yes groups with cash for campaign materials. John Hunter-Paterson, 73, the Sauchie-born former Royal Marine commando turned chartered insurance broker but now retired and living in Ayrshire, was one of the founders and is now vice-convener of SIF.

He said: “I have been active in the SNP since 1974, and in 1990 formed the North Kyle branch. The constituency was a Labour-Tory marginal and we didn’t even have a councillor. Now we have South Ayrshire Council and the local MP.

“In my insurance brokerage I used to insure the SNP and then their MPs and MSPs, and the Yes campaign in 2014, and through that connection I have known many of the leading figures in the SNP and the Yes movement in general.

“SIF was born out of frustration, really. There was a great demand for something to be done for the Yes movement and nothing was happening, so we got together with the aim of providing people with what they needed most, which was financial support for the movement.

“Between us, we also had long experience in campaigning and we have been able to put that to good use over the last two years.”

Hunter-Paterson revealed that SIF was about to host a congress involving people and organisations across the movement, but the pandemic arrived. It has merely been postponed.