A HEARTBROKEN Greenock woman today paid a moving tribute to her 'hero' granda after he lost his battle with coronavirus.

Retired engineer Brian Robertson, who was 67, died on January 24 after fighting the virus for a month.

His granddaughter Nicole McEwan is devastated over the loss of a man who'd looked after her since she was 13.

Brian, who lost his own son - Nicole's father - when he was murdered 26 years ago, stepped in to give Nicole a stable and loving home when she needed it most.

Last April the 67-year-old was set to walk her down the aisle in her dream Las Vegas wedding until it was cancelled because of the pandemic.

Nicole, 30, of Grieve Road, said: "He was dad, mum and my best friend rolled into one.

"My granda worshipped my son Shayne and he was our world.

"I don't know what we will do without him.

"To lose him like this is tragic.

"My granda was fit and healthy, the last person you'd expect to lose their life to Covid."

Popular Greenock man Brian, who previously worked for Devol Engineering, fell ill on Boxing Day.

Nicole, who is also recovering from the virus, added: "I started to get increasingly worried about him, I was phoning and he wasn't sounding good.

"I went down to see him and he looked terrible, his fingers were blue.

"He went to IRH and they needed to put him on ventilation, so he was moved to the Queen Elizabeth in Glasgow.

"When we were called to see him there it was honestly like hell.

"There were people of all ages all round the ward struggling to breathe, nurses were crying and doctors looked upset."

A month after he first fell ill, Nicole and her fiance Chris Smith were asked to come to the hospital.

Nicole said: "My fiance said to the doctors, 'there must be more you can do'.

"But I looked in their eyes and I knew that was it.

"We had to switch the machines off.

"I just lay beside him and cuddled him goodbye.

"I am still in shock, as he was so healthy and fit, always cycling up to our house."

Since Brian's death Nicole has been inundated with tributes from friends and former colleagues.

She said: "Everyone loved him - he was the kindest man you could meet.

"He was so funny and always making people laugh.

"My granda lost his son in a very tragic way, knew what it was like to hurt and I think he wanted to make people happy.

"In a way it's a comfort to know that my granda is with his son.

"It hurt him so much to lose him."

The chairman of Devol Engineering, where Brian worked for 46 years, sent Nicole a personal letter of condolence.

Peter Needham, of James Walker Group, said: "Brian was one of the great characters of the business, warm, energetic and a lovely person to talk to.

"He often spoke with great pride about being a great grandfather.

"I still remember his warm and welcoming smile."

When Nicole's dad, also Brian, was killed in a fatal attack in 1994 at the age of 20, she was only four.

Her mum Michelle McEwan became pregnant when she was just 13 and Nicole's dad 15.

In the years that followed her mum ended up addicted to heroin and Nicole moved from place to place with her.

Nicole said: "I visited my granda and stayed overnight and we saw him at birthdays and Christmas, but my mum didn't want anyone, even her own family, to know how we were living.

"She moved us to Paisley and there was a year when no-one knew where we were."

At seven-years-old Nicole and her siblings were taken into care.

She went to live with her maternal gran but when she started to fall unwell, Nicole spent more time with her granda.

She said: "Eventually I just went to stay with him.

"We have been a team ever since.

"My granda spoiled me with everything.

"We made so many happy memories as a family."

Nicole sadly lost her mum three years ago to an overdose.

She and partner Chris, who run Smith Removal, and Shayne hope to make Brian proud.

Last year Nicole gave up her job as a carer to train in beauty and she plans to open her own shop.

She said: "I know my granda would just want me to be happy, for me to get married, open my own business.

"I don't think we'll get married now in Las Vegas because my granda isn't there, but we'll look at another date.

"It's made me all the more determined to open my beauty place, in his memory."