HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to a much-loved former councillor and disability campaigner who has sadly passed away at the age of 62.

Jim MacLeod - a Port Glasgow community stalwart - lost his brave battle with a severe respiratory illness on Sunday.

His beloved wife Sylvia, who Jim described as his 'rock', was by his side at Inverclyde Royal Hospital as he slipped away.

They had been together for 27 precious years and were married for 19 of those.

Greenock Telegraph:

Jim was first elected as an Inverclyde councillor in 2007 and maintained his role as a go-to man in the community until last May.

Provost Drew McKenzie spoke fondly of Jim who worked alongside him as ward councillor.

The Provost said: "Jim was a fine ward councillor and highly respected and he worked alongside myself and Robert Moran.

"He was always there at the end of the phone and was very well loved about the Port.

"He was one of the good guys, especially for what he had to overcome, even to attend meetings.

"He was a champion on the health and social care committee, he'd experienced it all himself and was very much a campaigner for disabled people and he made you stand up and listen."

"He will be sorely missed as a person, he was larger than life and a very kind man."

Greenock Telegraph:

Jim was Port Glasgow born and bred and previously shared the experience of the tragic childhood accident that changed his life forever and took him away from his parents and community.

He was knocked down on the Clune Brae when he was only eight in 1969, and accident which confined him to a wheelchair.

Greenock Telegraph:

Jim was educated at Trefoil Boarding School for physically disabled children, run by the Girl Guides Association in Edinburgh because at that time there was no disabled access at mainstream schools in Inverclyde.

The SNP veteran said coping with a life-changing accident made him the person he was and made him a road safety campaigner and gave him a determination to make the lives of disabled people better.

He was a driving force behind Inverclyde Council on Disability and started the Shopmobility scheme.

In his youth, Jim was also a talented wheelchair basketball player and he travelled around the world in that capacity.

Greenock Telegraph:

MSP Stuart McMillan said that Inverclyde had 'lost a true son'

Mr McMillan added: “Today is such a sad day with the passing of Jim MacLeod. My thoughts and prayers are with Sylvia and all of Jim’s family.

“We both joined the Greenock and Inverclyde SNP branch of the Scottish National Party (SNP) around the same time and were instrumental in re-founding the Port Glasgow branch of the SNP along with a few other colleagues.

“Jim’s energy, drive and experience helped us become an excellent campaigning branch and I was so delighted and proud when Jim was elected as a councillor in 2007.

“In addition to family, Jim was dedicated to Port Glasgow and independence. He will have helped thousands of people in his life, even before he was elected.

“Port Glasgow, Inverclyde and Scotland have lost a true son today. Many hearts will be broken but Jim’s achievements and legacy of helping others will last the test of time.”

Greenock Telegraph:

Ronnie Cowan MP said he will remember Jim's sense of humour and the support he gave him when he was campaigning.

He said: "I was trying to remember how long I had known Jim and Sylvia, because it is always Jim and Sylvia. They were a partnership forged in adversity. They were each other's rock.

"The truth is I knew of Jim long before I ever met him in person and when I did he was very quick to make me feel at ease.

"His humour, often self-deprecating, was used wisely and quickly I got to know the man.

"I was campaigning with Jim long before I was elected and was over keen to impress.

"As Jim drove the route shouting out instructions, 'that house has a dog', 'they're unionist, make sure you don’t miss that flat', 'that’s May’s house, she's a member/voter', it was obvious he knew his patch like no other.

"His character shone out far beyond the confines of his wheelchair."

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon also paid tribute, saying: "I knew Jim for many years. He was an outstanding councillor, a dedicated champion for his community and a passionate campaigner for Scottish independence.

"Above all he was courageous and optimistic about life and a thoroughly decent man. I was proud to call him a friend. He loved Sylvia dearly and my thoughts are with her at this sad time."