THE Sunday Herald has been a constant through the devolution years, adding a distinctive voice to Scotland’s national life.

Since the Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999, the paper has kept pace with the ups and downs of Holyrood, and the ever-changing face of Scottish society more broadly – reflecting, reviewing and rethinking the way our nation sees itself at home, and in the modern world.

At that time of momentous change for Scotland, on the cusp of a new millennium, any new kid on the block in our fourth estate had to do something different to prosper. There’s little point in a dozen national titles all looking and thinking the same. The Sunday Herald rose to that challenge and stood out from the crowd. That was, in and of itself, no mean feat.

Launching its first edition just three months before the first elections to a new Scottish Parliament, the Sunday Herald made its intentions clear from the off. It wasn’t there to drift along with the prevailing tide of news reporting. This was to be a Sunday newspaper to be reckoned with. A left-looking voice for a left-looking nation, beginning to rediscover what it could become.

For nearly 20 years it has excelled on many levels, and while we can express sadness as it disappears from our kitchen tables on a Sunday morning, we should celebrate the impact it has had over two decades.

Firstly, the Sunday Herald was visually daring. I can think of few papers whose front page stories are etched in our minds like those of the Sunday Herald. Among the most memorable was that of May 4, 2014, when the paper made political history in becoming the only national newspaper to back Scottish independence. Under the editorship of Richard Walker, it proudly declared its support for Yes above a stylised thistle flanked by saltires, illustrated by the unmistakeable hand of Alasdair Gray. The front cover gave the edition the air of a collector’s artwork, and so it turned out to be.

As momentum moved ever in favour of the Yes campaign, the Sunday Herald’s readership grew each week as it gave a voice to a national movement that had for so long lacked the editorial support of the printed press. But more than that, the paper improved the health of Scotland’s working democracy.

A newspaper subscribed to a campaign of hope made a welcome antidote to the doom and gloom, the scaremongering and the negativity of the campaign being fought by the Better Together establishment.

However, while the Sunday Herald gave a welcome endorsement to the Yes movement, it never ceased holding politicians of all colours to account, not least in its scrutiny of the SNP in government.

From Paul Hutcheon’s investigations, which have made uncomfortable reading for all political parties at times, to David Pratt’s courageous reports from the world’s war zones, to Rob Edwards’ formidable coverage of Scotland’s environmental challenges, the role of Trident and the uncomfortable facts of climate change, its investigative journalism, foreign affairs reporting, and breaking stories have rocked and shaped the landscape of Scottish public life.

Today, as Scotland faces being dragged out of the EU against its will, and as the Tories’ Brexit proposals attempt to throw the whole process of devolution into reverse for the first time in two decades – the people of Scotland need and deserve critical and informative analysis from the print press. We should lament the death of any newspaper, and likewise welcome new titles to the fore as the Scottish Parliament faces its biggest challenge yet. My hope is that, like the Sunday Herald, the new Sunday National can provide a platform for debate and give us food for thought on the many hugely important issues facing Scotland today.

Over the last 20 years, the Sunday Herald has turned over its pages to a diversity of voices, and for that, I thank everyone involved for their service and I wish you well for the future. All the best.