THE charity working to restore a Dumbarton-built Clyde steamer has paid a heartfelt tribute after the death of its patron, Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane.

The 72-year-old died at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert on Friday.

The actor, whose roles included Hagrid in the Harry Potter film series, launched a fund-raising appeal for the restoration of the turbine steamer Queen Mary in 2016, shortly after the ship was towed back to the Clyde following years languishing out of use in Essex.

He was patron of the Friends of TS Queen Mary charity, and an enthusiastic supporter of its work.

The Queen Mary was launched from the Denny shipyard on the banks of the River Leven in March 1933.

Iain Sim, the charity’s chair, said: “Robbie Coltrane was a star of international renown, enjoying a glittering career in film, theatre and television.

“To us, however, he was - first and foremost - a true friend, in every sense of the word.

“Robbie was unstinting in his passion, enthusiasm and support for TS Queen Mary, a ship he often referred to as being his 'beautiful baby'.

READ MORE: Much-loved Scots actor Robbie Coltrane dies aged 72

"Away from the public eye he would spend countless hours helping us to engage with donors and corporate sponsors, even taking the time to sign around 300 Christmas cards every year.

“He loved casting his eye over the new plans and schematics for TS Queen Mary – he was an excellent engineer! – and he took real pleasure in sitting on her boat deck and imagining her getting ready to cast off.

“When we last met with Robbie he was in good spirits. He encouraged us to keep going, and to make sure that his “beautiful baby”, which he helped to save, in 2015, has a bright future.

“That is exactly what we will do, with renewed determination.

“We will, of course, miss Robbie greatly, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.”

The Queen Mary hasn’t sailed under its own steam since 1977, but earlier this year, during a visit to the ship’s berth at the Glasgow Science Centre, HRH Princess Royal, the charity’s royal patron, announced plans to return the vessel to steam and to offer cruises on the Clyde by the summer of 2024.

The charity had originally intended to restore the ship as a static exhibit in Glasgow, with a focus on heritage education and maritime training.