MY alarm went off at 2am, confusing my cat, who had just come in after a night on the prowl. Myself and my friend Colin set off from Caithness at 3am on Saturday morning, both questioning what on earth we were doing at this time of day, would it be worth all this effort!? Oh yes … and then some!

We caught a bus from Inverness that was run by the Ross/Sutherland Yes group – a nice friendly bunch they are as well. We set off for Glasgow at around 6.50am. Myself and Colin were the only two from Caithness on the bus but by no means the only Caithness Yessers on their way down to Glasgow, others travelling by car or train.

Having been to the Manniefest in Golspie and a march in Inverness last year, I was excited at the thought of a big march in Glasgow.

The National: ManniefestManniefest

When we arrived at Kelvingrove Park, you could feel the atmosphere was kind of electric and I knew I was going to have that big-march experience. We wandered through the crowd and got a sense of the wide range of indy support, buying some flags and some badges as souvenirs.

Like in Inverness, we somehow ended up on the end of a big brute of a Saltire to carry along the march. I was expecting some hostilities from the usual suspects along the way but there was none! All I saw (and will have a lasting memory of) was lines of people on the pavement, shopkeepers at their doors and people up in their windows waving their flags and cheering us on. That made it feel even more special and made you feel you were part of something great.

READ MORE: George Kerevan: It was great to feel Yes movement’s raw energy again

We were in the middle of the march and when we stopped moving you could look forward and behind and see an amazing display of flags as far as your eye could see. I just can’t imagine what it was like when the crowds were of more than 100,000 people.

When we arrived at Glasgow Green, I sought out the Yes Stones group tent and display. I enjoy painting stones, coasters and canvases for sharing with the group. They are a great bunch and definitely one of the best and friendliest groups on Facebook. I was greeted by Neil and Lynn, who I’d met previously, and got a lovely, warm welcome. I also got to meet some of the other members. They were asking for a donation for the stones the members had made so people could take them home as souvenirs or to leave them somewhere for others to find. It’s a great way of spreading the message. On Saturday, they collected an amazing total of £1300, which will be split among various food banks across the country.

Just before the speeches started, the heavens opened, but as hard as it rained, it couldn’t have dampened the spirits of the folk there, including myself and Colin. In the past, I have read some of the speeches at marches being negative or critical of various Yes-supporting parties but from what I heard that couldn’t have been further from the truth. First to last, the mood was so positive and inspiring!

I especially enjoyed the Lesley Riddoch speech and was also really motivated and inspired by Mohammad Asif, who I thought spoke best of all. His speech is one I will remember to motivate myself in future.

The theme of the day was all as one and all together. What we need now more than ever after these negatives times is unity and solidarity, we won’t achieve anything without it. I was told by my friend David on many occasions, “just wait until you’ve been to a big march, you’ll get the bug like me” – well, he was not wrong! The next march will be Stirling in June.

I was one of the idiots who voted No in 2014 and from the second I left the polling booth I knew I had made the biggest mistake of my life. From then, I swore to atone for my stupidity and vowed to make amends. I became involved in my local SNP branch and a supporter of Yes Caithness and the Yes movement in general.

By campaigning, leafleting, making and distributing my stones and coasters and with gentle but firm persuasion of those who are not quite on the indy track yet but close, I’ve made loads of new friends being involved with the independence movement. We all have the same goal, no matter what party colours you wear. Independence has got to be first always. We have got to keep working hard for a better future for us and those that come after because by god we deserve better than this. The status quo is not an option, we have to take our independence and create our own futures as no party or country has the right to deny us.
Alistair Crawford