Robert Muirhead saved thousands of lives through decades of delivering first aid and training.

But it was the life he couldn’t save that hit him perhaps the hardest.

Now tributes have been paid to a beloved grandfather and great-grandfather who touched so many lives throughout Dumbarton and the Vale and beyond.

Known as Bob or Bobby to most, Robert passed away last week after 82 remarkable years in the community.

From the 1960s on, as volunteer ambulance driver, to years with the St Andrews Ambulance Association, he also trained thousands of people through his own firm, Leven First Aid and was in the first group of volunteers with Helensburgh and Lomond Community First Responders.

The group said in a social media tribute post: “Robert dedicated his life to helping others and he will be sorely missed. Stand down Robert, your duty is done.”

Bobby as Commandant of the St Andrew’s Ambulance Association’s Alexandria company

Bobby as Commandant of the St Andrew’s Ambulance Association’s Alexandria company

Daughter Jay told the Reporter that particular in the last few years, Bob was affected by the death of 24-year-old Liam Coyle in 2017.

Bob happened to be there when Liam lost control of his motorbike near the Lomondgate roundabout.

“It really stuck with my dad right up until he died,” said Jay.

“He did everything he could and sadly Liam didn’t make it.

“But my dad was there with him. Liam’s mum said Liam might have died, but he was not alone.

“His was one of the lives he couldn’t save.”

Servades Band/Concert Party with Bobby at back right

Servades Band/Concert Party with Bobby at back right

Liam’s family expressed their condolences to Bob’s family and heaped praise on the care he gave Liam and the resulting connection they had beyond that loss.

Liam’s sister-in-law, Lizzie Coyle, told the Reporter: “Robert was an amazing man. He really stuck by us as a family after Liam passed away.

“We were welcomed at Robert’s home with open arms and an ear to listen whenever we needed it - and a few times, I personally needed it.

“That support meant the world, from both him and his wife Fiona.

“He never left Liam’s side that day and told us everything he saw, which helped us cope knowing.

“He even came on bike runs with us and always put our feelings before his, even though the accident really affected him mentally.

“We will be forever grateful and are so sorry to hear of his passing.”

Stewart Harris, co-ordinator of First Responders, said that Bob’s “war cry” was to be there for the patient and to preserve life, and to then support the ambulance crew when they arrive on the scene.

“He must have trained thousands,” said Stewart. “He was a character. And he was very humble.

“He never came across in any way other than wanting to help and make someone a better first responder.”

Bobby tending a casualty at Ingliston Country Club

Bobby tending a casualty at Ingliston Country Club

Robert was born on April 9, 1939 to James and Helen and lived his early life in Glasgow. He attended Hillhead Primary and his parents ran a club in Maryhill supporting residents of all ages.

Bob left school and served his apprenticeship with Douglas and Sons, painters and decorators, where his father was a partner.

He rose the post of foreman and later studied colour and design at Glasgow School of Art for two years.

But from a young age, Bob really wanted to be an ambulance driver, and he then found a passion for first aid.

It was in the 1960s when he moved to Renton and started as a volunteer ambulance driver operating out of Glen’s Garage in Alexandria.

Robert Muirhead with his wife Fiona

Robert Muirhead with his wife Fiona

He worked with the RAC and held the level of gold certificate assisting at many road traffic accidents and training others.

“It moved from his dream to reality,” said Jay of her dad’s passion-turned-career.

In 1980 he joined the Alexandria company of the St Andrew’s Ambulance Association, and rose to the position of commandant, responsible for 50 other first aiders.

He set up his own business, Leven First Aid, in 1996, offering training to thousands of people in CPR and first aid.

He only retired in 2020 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer just before the first national Covid lockdown.

In 1995 Bob also trained as an emergency medical technician (EMT), and joined the ranks of Basics Scotland, who work with the Scottish Ambulance Service, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue, the Coastguard and mountain rescue.

Bob had daughter Jay and son Robert with his first wife, Carol, and later met Fiona in 1969 at the Servades club - which had a marching band, gymnastics display and more - which was run by his parents. Fiona and Bob were married in 1975.

Bob was also involved with the Meadow Trampoline Club and particularly enjoyed giving first aid cover at events, especially equestrian ones and the massive Runrig concert in Balloch in 1991.

The Meadow Trampoline Club being presented with a cheque with Bobby on the righthand side

The Meadow Trampoline Club being presented with a cheque with Bobby on the righthand side

Dumbarton and the Vale’s MSP Jackie Baillie said: “I was really saddened to hear about the death of Robert Muirhead.

“He leaves a legacy to be extremely proud of having trained countless people in first aid and lifesaving CPR. He is a shining example of a community champion, and his loss will be sadly felt across the area, most notably by his loved ones who my thoughts are with.”

Daughter Jay said it would be impossible to calculate how many people her father might have trained over the decades.

“He did the training because he wanted people to go out there and help and do it right,” she said.

“Right up until he was ill, he was still doing 12-hour horse shows.

“It was in my dad’s blood, and he was never going to stop.”

A spokesperson from Save the Vale said: "The team at Save the Vale of Leven would like to extend our sympathies to Robert's family and loved ones including his thin green line family. I've known Robert for many years such and amazing man with many great stories and experiences (with a wealth of knowledge) we are deeply sadden to learn of Roberts passing although his experience will live on through those he has helped over the years."

Bob is survived by Fiona, Jay and Robert along with eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, and will be remembered by many friends in Dumbarton, the Vale and beyond.

His funeral will be held at Cardross Crematorium at 12.15pm on Tuesday, January 25.