SNP activist, organiser and politician;

Born: January 8, 1942; Died: July 23, 2013.

Allison Hunter, who has died aged 71, was a leading SNP national official and local politician who was mentor to the party's deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon.

During a political career which spanned 40 years, she worked as SNP national organiser and, more recently, served as group leader on Glasgow City Council. She was also election agent for Ms Sturgeon and for two leading MPs, Jim Sillars and John Mason.

She was born in Kinning Park, Glasgow, the daughter of Thomas and Anne Anderson.The family was later re-housed in Ruchhazie after their home was demolished to make way for the Kingston Bridge.

She was educated at Centre Street Primary School in Kinning Park and Albert Road Academy in Pollokshields. After school she went on to train as a primary teacher at Jordanhill College in Glasgow.

It was while teaching in the city that Allison Anderson met her future husband Ian Hunter. The couple married in 1963 and moved to London where she continued to teach.

The couple lived and worked in the capital for the next 16 years, during which time they had three children. When the family returned to live in Glasgow in 1979, Mrs Hunter taught in Pollok and later Barlanark.

By then the Hunters were committed nationalists. Both had been keen members of the SNP London branch and continued to play an active role in the party on their return to Scotland.

In 1988, Mrs Hunter was selected to be election agent for Jim Sillars in the parliamentary by-election in Govan. As a result of her success in helping Mr Sillars achieve a dramatic victory, she was appointed the SNP's national organiser, leaving teaching and working full-time for the party she loved and the cause about which she was passionate.

During her time as national organiser, she worked tirelessly for the movement, training thousands of activists and greatly improving the party's grassroots organisational capacity and campaigning effectiveness.

She worked for the SNP until 2002 when she retired as a full-time official at the age of 60. Her political career, however, was far from over. She continued to work, off and on, for the party during election campaigns.

Appointed Nicola Sturgeon's election agent in Govan in 2007, she was a great influence on the future SNP deputy leader, who described her as her mentor. The same year she also took her first personal step into elected politics when she stood as a Glasgow City Council candidate in the Govan ward. She was successful in both endeavours.

A year later, she served as an election agent once again, this time for her former council colleague John Mason in his successful bid for a Westminster seat in the Glasgow East by-election.

Mrs Hunter was selected as leader of the SNP group in Glasgow in 2011, succeeding James Dornan following his successful election as an MSP for Glasgow Cathcart. She led the party's campaign in the city during the 2012 local elections when expectations were high that the SNP could take control of Glasgow. It didn't –but it did gain five seats.

Her health failing, Mrs Hunter resigned as group leader shortly after the elections.

SNP leader and First Minister Alex Salmond said Mrs Hunter had been at the heart of some of the SNP's most successful and important campaigns.

"As the party's full-time national organiser, Allison built the operation which went on to achieve such spectacular results across Scotland," he said, "and since 2007 she served her beloved city of Glasgow as a councillor with dedication and distinction."

The SNP's deputy leader, Nicola Sturgeon, said she owed a personal debt of gratitude to Mrs Hunter. "It is no exaggeration to say that I would not have won Govan in 2007 without the guidance of Allison as my election agent," she said.

"It was a source of great pride to all of us in Govan SNP that, having also served as agent to Jim Sillars in the 1988 by-election, she was elected as councillor for Govan in 2007. Allison was a first-class councillor and her constituents will miss her dearly."

Ms Sturgeon also said Mrs Hunter's contribution to the national success of the SNP could not be over-stated. "As national organiser, she trained and mentored many of us who are now MSPs, councillors and organisers," she said. "Allison's leadership of Glasgow SNP in the 2012 local elections was exemplary, and it is a measure of her dedication to the cause she loved that she took on this responsibility despite the health challenges she had already faced."

Mrs Hunter had successfully fought breast cancer in 2011 but was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in June last year. She had undergone chemotherapy and was in remission but suffered setbacks in recent months. Tests showed that the lymphoma had returned in a more aggressive form and, despite great efforts by staff at the Southern General Hospital and the Beatson Centre, she died on Tuesday evening.

She is survived by her husband, her sister Anne, her children Fiona, Mhairi and Roy, and her grandchildren Kathleen and Andrew.