As a young man, Rowland joined the Labour Party Young Socialists, helping to organise the Stirling branch. Later, he joined the International Marxist Group and was elected to the central committee in 1973. Over the years, he served in the leadership of various political parties and movements including Scottish Labour, Scottish Nationalist Party, Scottish Socialist Party and Solidarity. He was also one of the founders of the Scottish Socialist Movement.
Throughout his life, Rowland was a supporter of movements for national independence, including Zimbabwe, Ireland and, of course, Scotland.
After the Chilean coup of 1973, Rowland co-founded the Chile Solidarity Committee in Stirling and was a great friend of exiled Chileans in Central Scotland. Tributes at his funeral made clear that Rowland’s persistent campaigning had undoubtedly saved lives in Chile. He also helped found the Ecomemoria Grove in Stirling’s Kings Park, which commemorates persecuted Chileans. A memorial bench for Rowland is to be sited there.
In the seventies, Rowland started a tenants group in Stirling’s Raploch area after being approached by local women who assumed he was a councillor, because he wore a suit and gave out leaflets. As a consistent supporter of women’s rights, it was no surprise that he looked after the crèche, while the women tenants attended the council chambers and put forward their case themselves. The final campaign, which broke Rowland’s health, was also on housing; helping to achieve a successful vote against the housing stock transfer in Stirling in 2006.
Rowland was a champion of making links between the global and the local. For more than thirty years, it could be guaranteed that any campaign in Stirling had been co-instigated by him. He encouraged others, particularly young people, to be politically active. Ever buoyant, even in his final weeks he inspired local activists to organise a symposium on the US economy.
Without a university education, Rowland was a true intellectual. He was exceptionally well read and had a great knowledge of science, the arts, literature, sport and many aspects of history. He had an affinity with children and was a friend to many, encouraging a love of reading and chess. Above all, he was a family man; a loving brother to Linda and uncle to Clare, Stephen, Suzy and their families.
For more information www.rowlandsheret.org