George Leslie, one of the titans of the modern Scottish independence movement, has died aged 86.

Leslie, the deputy leader of the SNP from 1969 to 1971, held various executive posts with the party over the decades and contested elections at local government, Westminster and European level.

A veterinary surgeon, Leslie returned to his home at North Glassock Boarding Kennel on Tuesday after a prolonged stay at Crosshouse hospital. He died the next day.

Leslie was a renowned and influential personality in nationalist circles. He joined the party in the early sixties and stood at the 1967 by-election in Pollok, taking 28% of the vote, a stunning and encouraging achievement for the SNP at this time. 

He was part of the team that worked to bring about the historic by-election victory of Winnie Ewing at Hamilton the same year.

READ MORE: From one seat in 1967 to electoral dominance … how a handful of activists changed the fortunes of the SNP

Speaking in 2017, Leslie said: “The Pollok campaign was fun, energetic and exciting. But it was chaotic. There was method at Hamilton. There was also Winnie. She was attractive, bright, intelligent and charismatic in a way that I wasn’t. We had to get her out where people could see her, talk to her."

Leslie, who continued his practice as a vet in various locations until he retired at the age of 74, was heavily involved in the rise of the SNP as a political force in Scotland, serving at various times as senior vice-chairman, vice-chairman for policy, and deputy leader.

Educated at Hillhead Academy and Glasgow University, he was a distinctive, powerful but loved presence in the nationalist movement and this affection was shared by his long-standing clients as a vet.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and his stepson, David, and his stepgrandchildren, Olivia and Finlay.

His funeral will be held at Holmsford Bridge Crematorium, near Irvine, on Monday, June 26, at 3.30pm.