I was launching Scotland's "Statement of Ambition for Adult Learning" this morning, a project that I have been working on with the sector for over a year and about which I am very enthusiastic. It envisages a Scotland in which learning and opportunities are for all - life long, life wide and learner centred. It is about how we make things better.

This was the adult learning event at Edinburgh's South Bridge Resource Centre which was hosting the launch but as I was taking this my phone rang. It was to tell me that the family of my Constituency Manager and friend Ron Simon had been called over to Inverclyde Hospital where Ron was in the HDU ward after a serious operation last week.

I delivered my speech and answered questions but I feared the worst and just after I left to go back to the Parliament I got a call from Ron's wife Gail to tell me he had died.

I really don't know what to say. He was instrumental in getting me selected for Argyll in 2010 and elected in 2011. He was energetic, outgoing , devoted to the SNP and to independence, a former councillor with a vast knowledge of the area , business skills and lots of campaign ideas. He set up my office after the election and ran it with enthusiasm until his illness started to set in over two years ago. Even then he was keen to continue and do what he could and I know from an email I had from him just last week that he was desperate to get well again and to get back to doing what he loved. He was particularly frustrated not to be part of the YES campaign in the area.

Gail and the family were the centre of his life and they will be devastated. He had ambitions for them and they for him. They all had a vision of how as a family in wider society they could work to make things better. It is too cruel to think that their hopes and dreams won't be realised - together.

In August 2011, only weeks after the election, another good Argyll SNP friend Cllr Donald MacDonald died suddenly. I blipped this on the day , which was Donald and the campaign team at Lochgilphead just after the Scottish Parliament result. Ron - who was also a councillor at the time - is right next to him in the front row, cheering. He had , more than anybody else, made it happen.

I can't believe that neither of them are around now to keep making things happen.

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