A HEARTBROKEN nephew whose beloved uncle tragically died after disappearing from his home in Gourock today thanked the local community for rallying around his family in their time of need.

Popular pensioner Patrick Clark was reported missing in January last year, having disappeared after leaving the town's Lyle’s Bar on Shore Street.

It sparked a massive search operation which was spearheaded by kind residents and lasted for several weeks.

Despite the best efforts of concerned locals and emergency services, the search for 70-year-old Mr Clark ended in tragedy when his body was discovered near Gourock Golf Club on April 5.

OTHER NEWS: Mairi McAllan to attend summit on future of Ferguson Marine

Now, just over a year on from that tragic day, a memorial bench has been installed near Patrick’s home in Eastern View, using funds which were raised to support the search for him.

The bench, which was originally built by Patrick himself, has been lovingly restored and moved to a sunny spot where Patrick’s friends and family can go to remember him.

Greenock Telegraph: Patrick Clark Credit: Police ScotlandGreenock Telegraph: Memorial bench installed for Patrick Clark, who disappeared in Gourock last year.

Patrick’s nephew, Gareth McNeil, told the Telegraph his family were incredibly grateful for all the help they had received from locals.

He said: “He was my uncle but because I was brought up by my grandparents he was like a brother too.

“When he disappeared it was really hard. I had been down every second day checking on him, doing his shopping and going on day trips to places like the garden centre. We loved doing things like that together.

“He’s really missed, I don’t like coming down this end of the town so much now because I feel like I’m going to see him wandering around.

“I was hoping he was just going to have gone on a day trip himself, but when the caretaker at the flats said they found all his belongings lying on top of his bed I knew it wasn’t that.

“We don’t really know what was going through his mind, we had hoped to find him still with us and safe and well, but sadly when we found him he’d already passed.

“It was hard losing him, I’ve got an 11-year-old boy that’s moved in with me and I’m trying to look after him while grieving for my uncle.

“Trying to explain to him that uncle Pat is no longer with us has been heartbreaking.”

Greenock Telegraph: Memorial bench installed for Patrick Clark, who disappeared in Gourock last year.

Gareth described his uncle Patrick as a kind man who was always willing to help others and said he was someone who cared deeply about his community.

He added: “Whenever anyone asked him to do a job he wouldn’t say no, he was always helping.

“If I had any ups or downs, he was always there for me and always on the phone.

“I still talk to him now on the hard days, I have a wee blether with him. He’s still with me and he always will be.

Greenock Telegraph: Memorial bench installed for Patrick Clark, who disappeared in Gourock last year.

“When you look on Facebook, you’re always seeing that somebody else has disappeared and you’re just hopeful they can be found safe and well.

“It brings it back up for me whenever I see that, you end up wondering if they’re safe.

“It was so nice to have the community around us when my uncle went missing.

“And it means a lot to us to have this bench done up. I want to thank everyone who went out searching and tried to find him and Jan who helped get the bench done up.

“I also want to thank the people who’ve brought the bench down here to a nice sunny spot so plenty of people can see it and appreciate the memory of him.

“The bench is here and my uncle's always going to be here now. He’s from Gourock and this is where he would want to be.”

Greenock Telegraph: Memorial bench installed for Patrick Clark, who disappeared in Gourock last year.

Jan Gal, who helped organise the search for Patrick and the refurbishment of the bench, today paid tribute to the people who’d supported the renovation of the memorial.

She said: “We want to thank Archie White for helping to refurbish the bench, he and his team put a lot of hours into doing it up.

“We’ve added the plaque for anyone to sit there and have their thoughts.

“Gary had built the bench with his uncle. We organised the searches and raised the money to help, but with Pat passing that money was just left over.

“We decided to refurbish the bench and the leftovers will go to a local charity.”