Poignant tributes have been paid to a much-loved Renfrew community champion who has died at the age of 83.

William 'Bill' McGuinness, who served as a councillor in the town for 15 years, passed away at home on Tuesday, November 14.

Before venturing into politics, the former St Mirin's Academy pupil served in the Scots Guards and worked as an engineer.

Mr McGuinness later opened a cobbler business in Renfrew's Canal Street, which led to him becoming deeply involved in a number of local campaigns.

His son Mark, 56, told The Gazette: "He was a big personality, well known in the community, who loved his family and did all he could to help others. 

The Gazette:

"He especially adored his granddaughters Emily and Sophie.

"The flood of cards and messages of sympathy we have received show just how loved he was and how much he will be missed."

Foster Evans, who first met Mr McGuinness in the early 1980s, described his friend as the "beating heart" of a successful campaign to stop a toxic waste incinerator being built on the outskirts of Renfrew.

In 1992, the community champion was elected to represent his home town as an SNP councillor.

Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP Gavin Newlands said: "To get over 50% of the vote at the first time of asking was a feat, but to hold on to his seat for a further three elections after that, each time securing well over half the vote is a tribute to how popular Bill was – and how he helped drive the SNP to success.

The Gazette:

"Bill stood down from the council undefeated after 15 years, but never stopped fighting for the people of Renfrew, whether that be his many years on the local community council, or frequent contact with my office and I to report an issue and get something done about it – and Bill was not one to take no for an answer!"

Mr Newlands described the former councillor as "a big man, with a big voice, a big personality and an even bigger heart".

He added: "He and his wife Liz were the heart and soul of the party in Renfrew. 

"He was always good for a bit of advice, and every conversation ended with an exhortation to 'be good', although whether that was reserved for those he thought needed a word of caution is up for debate!

"Today Scotland is edging closer and closer to independence, and all of us trying to make that last leap to national normality are standing on the shoulder of giants like Bill, and my thoughts go to all his family, particularly Liz, as they mourn his loss.

The Gazette:

"He will be greatly missed by us all."

Renfrewshire's Provost Lorraine Cameron said: "When I was elected in 1999, Bill became a father figure to me, giving me good advice and kind words and encouraging me to be as community-spirited as he was.

"I hope I've done him proud. He was a big gentle giant to the people close to him and a wonderful friend and mentor. 

"I will miss his big hugs and wise words. I know what a sense of loss will be felt by his family as he loved them dearly and my thoughts are with them all."

Mr McGuinness is survived by his wife Elizabeth, his son Mark and his two grandchildren Sophie and Emily.