A GREENOCK minister whose family faced a fight with Covid has spoken of the devastating impact the virus has had on so many lives locally - and about his high hopes for the future of his home town.

Pastor Fraser Donaldson is leaving the Greenock church he grew up in to take on a new role in Glasgow.

He says he is moving on with a positive feeling that the district will emerge from one of its darkest periods strongly and firmly believes its best days are yet to come.

His wife Susan, who works as a midwife at the RAH, was struck down by the virus during the first wave of infections and has struggled ever since with 'long Covid' symptoms.

The Hope Community Church pastor was then devastated as he lost members of his congregation to the virus and also saw others suffer from loneliness and grief.

Leading anti-poverty campaigner Fraser, who was instrumental in setting up the Inverclyde Foodbank, hopes that the community spirit in place here will help local people recover from the crisis.

Fraser, 38, who has led the Kelly Street church for the last decade, said: "We have faced Covid ourselves in our own family and we know how devastating it is.

"We have never faced anything like this before, with churches and many other places closed and people separated.

"We had so many people affected in our church - we have lost members to Covid, and non-Covid.

"One of the biggest struggles for people has been the loss of community and togetherness.

"We are a family in the church and it has been so difficult.

"People haven't been able to share the grief they have felt and it is so hard because you can't be with them in a physical way.

"Virtual services have helped, but in no way it is the same."

Fraser's wife Susan was struck down by coronavirus symptoms last April last year and she ended up in hospital.

The 41-year-old said: "We just had no idea how bad it was going to be.

"But I am on the road to recovery now.

"I have struggled with long Covid symptoms for the last seven or eight months but I am getting there now."

Fraser and Susan and their daughter Abbie, 15, and son Kerr, 13, who live in Port Glasgow, are now all set for a new chapter in their lives through his new post.

As Fraser moves on to pastures new he feels optimistic about the area's future.

He said: "I think the community spirit that exists here means that Inverclyde's best days are in front of it.

"That is very much the message I want to leave."

Fraser's time at the church was celebrated in his farewell virtual service at the weekend.

He was baptised in the former Elim Church, married and started his ministry there.

It was through the church that he met Susan, who is also a lifelong member, and they have raised their family in the church.

Abbie, 15, said: "We will miss the church, it is mixed emotions for us all.

"Hope is like our second family.

"But we will make new friends at the church in Glasgow and we are looking forward to it."