WARM tributes have poured in following the death of a tireless campaigner who gave so much to her community.

Irene Pollard MBE has passed away at the age of 88, only days after speaking out in the Telegraph about waiting seven hours to be seen at accident and emergency in Inverclyde Royal then waiting nine hours for an ambulance a week later.

Mrs Pollard, who lived in Eldon Street, was a leading light for carers rights and health services.

She came to the Tele this month to raise her concerns about local health services and the pressure on them.

Councillor John Crowther, Inverclyde Council’s carers’ champion, today paid tribute to her,

He said: “Irene was a long serving stalwart of the community and I cannot praise her highly enough.

“She worked tirelessly for carers and their families and it was well deserved in 2020 when she was named in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to people with disabilities and their families.

"It was a special distinction for a special person who was an ambassador for Inverclyde.

"Irene will be sorely missed not only by carers, people with disabilities and their families, but also by the proud community of Inverclyde.”

Irene was married to Ted for 60 years before he passed away in 2018, and the couple had three children, Janet, Fiona and Gordon.

She become a champion for disabled people's rights after her daughter Janet was born with learning difficulties.

After Janet sadly passed away in 2001 at the age of 40, her mum kept campaigning, helping to establish Inverclyde Carers' Council and she was still its chair at the time of her death.

Irene was active in a number of local organisations, serving with Greenock West & Cardwell Bay Community Council, Parklea Branching Out, Phoenix Health Project, Enable Social Club and the Guides.

A spokesman for Inverclyde Carers' Council, said: "Irene was always very passionate about helping unpaid carers.

"She was one of the group instrumental in securing the Carers Centre in Cathcart Street.

"She forged quite an understanding with Donald McQuade, director of the social work department at that time, saying that carers needed somewhere to meet to receive support and financial advice.

"She also served on the management committee of the centre for many years.

"She will be sorely missed.

"She worked very hard, latterly within her capabilities as she was very frail, but she didn't suffer fools gladly.

"Irene was an inspiration to all of us."

Sharon Gemmell, manager of Parklea Branching Out, added: "We have lost a dear and close colleague who worked tirelessly for her community and committed a lot of her time in her role as trustee to the board, helping the organisation grow over the past 15 years.

"Irene made a valuable contribution to the voluntary sector and was extremely passionate about inclusion and opportunities for people with learning and physical disabilities.

"She has left quite a legacy here and we will honour this by continuing with the future developments of the organisation in a way that she would have wanted us to."

Gourock councillor Ronnie Ahlfeld, who worked with Irene for many years, said her wealth of knowledge was irreplaceable.

He said: "Whatever came up at community council meetings, nothing was new to Irene.

"Her wealth of experience cannot be replace.

"She will be very sadly missed."

Fellow town councillor Lynne Quinn said she was 'very sad' to hear about Irene's passing, adding: "She was a strong female voice for her community, passionate about speaking up for those who could not.

"I'm sure all at the Greenock West & Cardwell Bay Community Council will miss her outspoken, forthright contributions to the meetings.

"My condolences go to Irene's family and friends."

Irene also won a Telegraph community champions award in 2019.

Brian Hossack, Tele editor, said: "..................................