THE daughter of a 97-year-old World War Two veteran who passed away in Arrochar at the end of last month has paid tribute to the "welcoming community" where he spent his last three years.

Ron Sivyer, who joined the RAF as a wireless operator in 1939, died peacefully at home in the village on Sunday, June 28 with daughter Carol and her husband Don at his side.

Around 50 people, young and old, turned out to pay their respects as the funeral cortège made its way through the village on Friday, July 10 before a small service, with physical distancing guidelines in place, was held at Cardross Crematorium.

Ironically, the funeral of Forces' Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn, in Ditching, Sussex took place on the same day, where Ron and late wife Jean also lived for several years.

"Mum would occasionally sit next to Dame Vera in the hairdressers," said Carol.

"Whilst being unable to arrange a fly past for dad, the Spitfires would have flown over their previous home in Ditching, which is good enough for me!"

Mr Sivyer moved from Kent to the Loch Long area in November 2017, quickly forming close friendships through the Generation Communities Group.

Founded by Fiona Paterson and run at Arrochar Primary School, in partnership with the Arrochar and Tarbet Community Development Trust, the group aims to bring people of all ages together and Mr Sivyer struck up a particularly strong bond with fellow RAF veteran Billy Ross through the monthly meet-ups.

The pair featured in the Advertiser in October 2018 ahead of laying a wreath at the community's war memorial on Remembrance Day, in what was the centenary year of the RAF and the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Carol said the regular gatherings with "dear friend" Billy and others were a highlight of his time north of the border, and even during lockdown he and other group members received messages and colourful pictures from the children to brighten up their day.

"Dad thoroughly looked forward to each get-together," Carol said, "valuing the friendship, activities, outings and having something fun to look forward to each month.

"At one meeting he and great pal Billy shared their experiences of their time spent in the RAF during the war, as well as Billy's brother Arthur, with dad demonstrating his Morse code skills to the children.

"His last contact with the children was when some of them very kindly came to visit him at home along with Fiona and [Arrochar Primary School headteacher] Alison Palmer to celebrate his 97th birthday in February bringing cake, cards and presents which was so very thoughtful of them and much appreciated."

Fiona's children, Coll and Tilly, along with friend Erin, held a large poster with the message "We will miss you Ron" written in Morse code as Mr Sivyer's cortège passed through Arrochar last week, a gesture described by Carol as "quite overwhelming, very touching and a great example of community spirit".

She added: "The day was also a great example of how under such unusual circumstances due to Covid-19, such a sad time could be so respectfully and thoughtfully organised and delivered by James Auld, the funeral director, Minister Ian Miller, Cardross Crematorium and all those involved."

Fiona said: "Ron was a much loved member of our Generation Communities Group.

"He was a real character, he demanded nothing and shared everything, and totally cherished the friendships of the group, young and old.

"It is sad we weren't able to hold our usual meetings, because of obvious restrictions, but his memory will live on with all generations.

"Ron loved sharing his life experiences with the children of Arrochar Primary School, but in turn loved hearing their thoughts of the future, he always said “You are never too old to learn"."