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BBC Scotland's Elizabeth Quigley
"For me the day really was one in which Scotland took ownership of its parliament"
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Saturday, 1 July, 2000, 08:57 GMT 09:57 UK
Remembering an historic day
Elizabeth Quigley
Political writers are in a reflective mood
By BBC Scotland political correspondent Elizabeth Quigley

The run-up to the Scottish Parliament's most important day wasn't without its difficulties.

There were worries from some quarters the official opening would be a complete shambles - invitations were sent out late and some celebrities couldn't find the time to attend.

But all that was forgotten as the sun shone and the crowds gathered to watch the events.

When the Presiding Officer, Sir David Steel, picked up the organisation, much of the day had already been arranged.

But his only regret now is that the first of July hadn't been declared a public holiday so more Scots could have taken part in the Parliament's big day.

Sheena Wellington
Sheena Wellington: On the verge of tears
One of the most memorable moments has to be Sheena Wellington resplendent in Saltire blue and wearing a large Celtic brooch singing Burns' great anthem, A Man's A Man.

The song's dismissal of rank and privilege was all the more poignant as it was performed in close proximity to the Queen.

And the audience's impromptu involvement surprised even Sheena Wellington.

She could hear some MSPs humming along as she was singing so decided to let them know they were welcome to join in.

When the song ended she made a quick bow in the direction of the Queen and then scurried back to her seat - fearful that she would burst into tears.

'A great country'

Schoolchildren played an important role in the celebrations - but two in particular stood out.

One was Amy Linekar who wrote the poem entitled "How to Create a Great Country" - the other was Victoria Joffe who read the piece.

A year on Victoria is a student at St Andrews University and she's one of the first to be affected by the Executive's changes to student funding.

After playing such a key part in the celebrations, she has been watching what has been happening on the Mound.

Victoria Joffe
Victoria Joffe: Watching closely
She didn't pay any fees last year and urged MSPs to bring back grants for students.

As afternoon turned into evening on the first of July, the focus shifted to Princes Street Gardens.

On one side Scottish Opera - on the other the band Garbage. Picnic baskets and rugs dotted the grass - and hundreds of arms linked for Auld Lang Syne.

As a political journalist I reported on Labour's win in 1997, the referendum campaign and the very first elections - but the day the Parliament opened was a truly historic occasion.

For me, it was the day that Scotland took ownership of the Parliament.

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See also:

06 May 00 | Scotland
What a difference a year makes
01 Jul 99 | Scottish Parliament opening
History beckons for Scotland
04 Jul 99 | Scottish Parliament opening
Scotland's day of history
01 Jul 99 | Scottish Parliament opening
Scotland's day in pictures
01 Jul 99 | Scottish Parliament opening
The Queen's speech
09 Jul 99 | Scottish Parliament opening
Beginning of a new song
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