THE appeal of Scottish independence to all ages was made plain at the SNP conference this year, with one of the paid-up members there for the first time just six weeks old and another still going strong at 94.

Not surprisingly it was baby Ronnie Cullen’s first time at conference but pensioner Margaret Willis, who has just lost her husband after 72 years of marriage, was also a rookie.

The great-great gran has created a dynasty of independence supporters and is now also a star on social media after being pictured with Nicola Sturgeon.

While young Ronnie gave a scream of joy when additional spending on nursery places was announced, Margaret was overcome with emotion during Sturgeon’s speech and burst into tears when the First Minister announced there would be an independence referendum next year.

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Having spotted her from the stage, Sturgeon made a beeline for Margaret after her speech to see how she was.

“She came over to me as I was a bit upset,” Margaret told The National. “I was all churned up inside but she came back before she left to see how I was and make sure I was okay.

“I thought she was wonderful. It was the best speech I ever heard any politician make. It really was excellent. I thought she was so competent. But I do wish they would hurry up and get on with things.

“I said to Nicola that if they don’t hurry up I am not going to be here to celebrate as the years are going in so fast – I’ve never known them to pass as fast as they are doing now. I feel like I’m on roller skates.”

Margaret said she had been so surprised to hear her photo was on social media it took her breath away.

“It has given us a laugh,” she added.

She said she had never been overly political but had begun to support independence because she thought Scotland “could show a better way”.

“If you had told me a few years back I would go and sit and listen to politicians, I would have said ‘oh no, that’s not me’. I have lived through wars and got through everything but that was my first conference. It was an excellent experience.”

Both she and her English husband, Ronald, voted Yes in 2014 and joined the SNP the same year. “We need independence because our hands are tied behind our back at the moment,” said Margaret, who lives in sheltered housing in Turiff. “We are not allowed to do or say anything and the UK is terrible now – the laughing stock of the world. I think it is awful. Scotland is very much better than this.”

Margaret was taken to the conference by her daughter Linda and husband Robin Walker, both SNP members.

“She is always keen to know what’s going on and always asking questions,” explained Linda. “She gets us to read The National to her as her eyesight is going and she can only read the headlines. She would have liked to have gone on an independence march and was interested in going to the Aberdeen one, but had a cataract operation two days before so she couldn’t.”

Linda added: “Dad died in August on the eve of his 94th birthday and Mum was a bit lost so we asked her if she would like to go. I was actually surprised at how avidly she followed the debates. She wanted to vote with the delegates. She desperately wants independence while she is still alive.

‘‘She was enamoured by Nicola’s speech and burst into tears when she said we are going to have independence and a referendum in 2020. The people behind us were fishing about for paper hankies for her but then needed them themselves as she set them off!

“Nicola was really nice, really comforting and told her that if it was not for people like her she would not be here doing this. She made a point of coming back again to make sure she was okay.”

Margaret’s convictions are shared by three of her grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. The six great-great-grandchildren are still very young but Linda said they were “being taken in the right direction”.

Supporting independence is also in Ronnie Cullen’s blood. Dad Chris is a councillor in South Ayrshire and mum Shannon is secretary of the local SNP branch. His gran is Corrie Wilson, who was MP for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock until 2017. As she was also going to the conference and couldn’t babysit, Ronnie went too.

Despite his tender age he is already a veteran of branch meetings so the cavernous hall at the new Aberdeen conference centre was just another political arena – although a considerably bigger one – to add to his burgeoning early life experience.

“He was amazing, quite content inside the hall and out,” said dad Chris. “He loves a crowd and he loves noise so a party conference is the place to be. I don’t know how much he takes in during the debates but there was definitely a wee scream of joy when additional spending on nursery places was mentioned!”

Chris added: “I got into politics because I wanted to make a difference and make things better for our children. So I’m determined to fight for what is right and I’m sure my son will too when he’s older. ”

Both Margaret and Ronnie had their photographs taken at conference for the A Millon Reasons projects, which asks people to state their reason for supporting independence. You can take part at