SHE was known as the First Lady of Scottish Socialism, an indomitable spirit.

"Firebrand campaigner against injustice, ex-jailbird, cancer survivor, doting mum of Scottish Socialist Party founder Tommy Sheridan and gran", as the Evening Times described her in 2006. Her compassion and sense of injustice were said to know no bounds.

At the end of the previous year, Alice, then 67, had dragged herself out of bed in the early hours of the morning to protest the use of dawn raids to deport failed asylum-seekers. Not even the fact that she had long suffered chronic ill-health could stop her making her voice heard.

Cold and wet and in pain, she joined her son, Tommy, and other protesters at a blockade of the UK immigration offices in Govan. "No wee children should have to cry or wet themselves in fear in my name," she declared. "These aren't terrorists but ordinary people just wanting to feed their children. Many are highly skilled people and they want to work."

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Alice Sheridan was revered by Tommy. She instilled in him, it was once said, "his moral code, his compassion, his humanity and the fire in his soul". Mother and son both went to prison over the poll-tax protests in the early 1990s.

She also once served a short time in Cornton Vale prison for non-payments of fines for obstructing sheriff officers' warrant sales. It was, she later reflected with characteristic sang-froid, an interesting episode.

"I tend to look on most things as a learning experience and I was proud to go. Tobacco was the currency there. There was me who had done so much with my life and I couldn't roll a cigarette with one hand. The next time I was in, the women knew from the TV that I was coming and they had cigarettes ready for me."

In the 1980s she had been a social worker with the RSPCC, and initiated and developed work with sexually abused children and battered wives.

What she saw and heard then haunted her forever. "I was given a caseload of 10", she recalled, "and within a matter of weeks, eight out of the 10 mothers had disclosed for the first time in their lives that they had been abused as children.

HeraldScotland: Tommy Sheridan at a poll tax rallyTommy Sheridan at a poll tax rally (Image: free)

"Although I don't want people to be labelled in any way, I know the physical and mental scars people can be left with and I don't want it to affect their lives and relationships with their own children. If they had mentoring at the correct time, what a difference it would make."

Her face crumpled as she recollected the shock she felt when children began disclosing details of abuse and she discovered that babies as young as one or two were being abused. "Imagine a child of two or three being abused by multiple people."

She remembered yelling at God: "'Where the hell were you, when this was happening to this kid?'

"At least, if you're shouting and bawling at God, you're acknowledging he exists", Alice added.

Alice Sheridan achieved much despite having been plagued with health problems throughout her life. As a child, she almost died from a serious ear problem.

She had to give up her job as a social worker for health reasons, and in her time, she was treated for arthritis, angina, glaucoma, gynaecological problems and cervical spondylosis - a compression of the spine which leads to headaches, dizziness, breathing problems and a feeling of powerlessness in her limbs. In 1998 she was left temporarily paralysed after exploratory day surgery for an ovarian cyst.

Then in 2002 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In October that year she underwent breast surgery. Days later, she joked defiantly: "I'm no' dying before the revolution, and I said I'd never die before Maggie Thatcher."

True to her principles and to those she had instilled in her family, she was proud to stand by her son throughout his legal travails.

In January 2011 he was jailed for three years for perjury during his successful defamation action against the News of the World. "When I saw my son go to prison today", Alice said pointedly, "I said: 'There goes a man who can't be bought'."

In a heartfelt tribute to his mother, Tommy Sheridan has described her as “our inspiration and muse". She fought, he added, "against injustice all her life".