A PIONEERING environmentalist from Fairlie who inspired communities to rally against climate change has passed away.

Tributes have been paid to Ron Gilchrist, who launched Fairlie Community Garden in 2008.

Ron led a team of volunteers in converting waste ground at the former NATO base in Fairlie into the much-loved facility which became so successful that it received a number of visits from the BBC's Beechgrove Garden team and featured on national television.

Ron, formerly a principal teacher of biology at Ardrossan Academy, even met HRH Princess Anne at a Gardening Scotland event at Ingliston to discuss composting, wormeries, waste recycling and building gardens on brown-field sites.

His inspirational oratory skills saw him address the SNP National Conference in 2016, and in recent years, he also worked with the Conservatives in trying to promote Hunterston as a green hub for industry.

Ron delivered workshops on community food production in Austria and Hungary to politicians, scientists and religious groups and was honoured as a 'Soil Ambassador' at international conference in the Tulln District of Austria.

He also gave advice on the creation of other community gardens, including Millport growers and the Ardrossan Church of Nazarene and was a devoted member of the Friends of Firth of Clyde pressure group.

He was also well known within the sailing communities of Fairlie and Largs.

Close friend David Nairn said: "Ron shone a light on all of the environmental issues going on in our area. It is very sad that he is no longer with us.

"He had an encyclopedic knowledge of marine ecology and was well known in communities around Scotland and overseas.

"He was very keen on conservation of the oyster beds in Fairlie and looking at sustainable ways of improving the environment.

"He very much had his own environmental masterplan for Hunterston which would have brought far more jobs to the local area than Peel Ports plan ever could.

"We will carry on our environment campaigning in his name."

Nancy McQueen, secretary of the Organic Growers of Fairlie, said: "Ron had the vision of creating an allotment on a long derelict, unpromising site on Fairlie seafront.

"He worked tirelessly to see the goal fulfilled which has now led to the vibrant garden of today.

"He enthusiastically passed on his extensive knowledge of gardening and composting techniques to garden members and wrote a small practical guidebook which is still in use today.

"He was very keen that the younger generation would have opportunities to learn gardening and established a small garden and wormery at Kelburn Primary."

Councillor Alan Hill said: "I am very sad to hear of Ron's passing. The community garden helped transform Fairlie."

Councillor Ian Murdoch said: "This has come as a great shock and my deepest sympathy with Ron's family. His work was something to be very proud of."

Ron, is survived by wife Marion, his grown-up children Ceilidh and Josh and five grandchildren. His funeral took place today at Fairlie Parish Church.