Former Hawick councillor and provost J. R. Scott is backing a Yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum on September 18.
Mr Scott 63, who is chairman of NHS Orkney, gave his endorsement during a campaigning visit to the island last week by Scottish health minister Alex Neil MSP and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP.
Making it clear he was speaking in a “personal capacity”, Mr Scott said: “I have been on a 40-year quest for devolution and having seen the benefits of devolved powers to Scotland come to fruition, independence is the next step.
“I am extremely optimistic about the prospects of a Yes vote in this month’s referendum.”
His comments were described as “a fabulous endorsement” by Ms Sturgeon who, in her role as Scottish cabinet secretary for health, announced the appointment of Mr Scott as chairman of NHS Orkney in 2007.
Ms Sturgeon went on: “People across Scotland are waking up to the fact that a Yes vote will give us an opportunity to ensure that we protect our NHS and by enshrining it in our constitution we will keep it in public hands forever.”
Mr Scott left the Borders in 2003 after losing his Silverbuthall seat and his role as council leader at the SBC elections.
A journalist to trade and a former editor of the Hawick News, he took over as editor of the now defunct Orkney Today. He now edits the Living Orkney magazine.
He served his native town as a councillor for 23 years including a term as provost, and, in his role as chairman of the South East Scotland Transport Partnership and as Scottish Lib Dem transport spokesman from 1998-1999, he was a staunch and vocal supporter of the reinstatement of the Borders Railway.
However, his political career has been marked by disappointment.
In 1997, he failed to win his party’s nomination to fight the Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale Westminster seat vacated by Sir David Steel.
In 2007, Mr Scott was shortlisted to be the Lib Dem candidate for Orkney in the Scottish Parliamentary elections, ultimately losing out to current incumbent Liam McArthur.