AN inspirational ex-Greenock teacher and political campaigner has passed away at the age of 71 following a kidney illness.

Gerry McGinty worked for many years in the English department at Notre Dame High.

As well as his school work, he was well known for his amateur dramatics, starring in many Largs Players productions, and was also an ardent SNP supporter.

Gerry was brought up in Largs and excelled as a pupil at St Mary's Primary in the town before going on to St Michael's Academy in Kilwinning.

He married Largs woman Gwen Cureton at St Mary's Star of the Sea Church in 1971 after they met at a party in the mid-60s.

Mr McGinty started work as a clerk on the railways before moving to Hunterston Power Station in the same role, and then became a firefighter in Johnstone.

But he decided after a few years - following the tragic death of a fireman colleague - to take a change of career path, and trained to be a teacher at Craigie College in Ayr and Strathclyde University.

He began as English teacher at Auchenharvie Academy in Stevenston before going on to enjoy a long spell as assistant deputy English teacher locally at Notre Dame.

After his retirement Gwen and Gerry moved from Largs to Ardentinny in Dunoon.

As well as an active member of the Largs Players for 15 years, he was also a great Burnsian and attended many suppers in which he enjoyed performing Tam o Shanter and Holly Willie's Prayer.

He was keen to promote Burns at every opportunity in his role as an English teacher too.

After moving to Ardentinny, Gerry took a great interest in walking, bird watching and model building and was particularly interested in US Naval History, and Napoleonic history.

He was also a great traveller and used to co-ordinate a lot of school trips during his time at Notre Dame, giving pupils the chance to share in his love of exploring and broadening their horizons.

Gerry was also very active in SNP circles in terms of canvassing and attending party functions.

His son Paul said: "He was very much a champion of good causes and always on the side of the underdog.

"He challenged any notion of unfairness in society and was a great father to me - he was the best person in the world." Gwen said: "Gerry was very loving, kind and will be sorely missed."

Gerry had been ill for some time and in and out of hospital for the past year and a half, but he was allowed the opportunity to get home at Christmas, which was cherished by the family.

Gerry's brothers included the late Joe and Pat, and he is survived by brother Roderick and sister Mary.

Ian Rutherford, a former pupil of Notre Dame, said: "Gerry was one of the best teachers around.

"His tone of authority commanded attention and he never suffered fools gladly.

"It's a very sad loss for all of us but the bigger loss will be felt by his family right now."

Gerry's funeral at Greenock Crematorium on Wednesday will be attended by close family members only due to the current coronavirus restrictions.