A NUMBER of former colleagues have paid tribute to a retired Ayrshire policeman after his death last week.

Ronald Neilson passed away on Monday, July 1, at his home in Benslie village just outside of Kilwinning.

He had previously worked as a policeman across various locations in the county during his 30 years in the force.

Ronald, best known as Ronnie, first joined Ayrshire Constabulary in 1970, spending the first six years of his career working in Kilmarnock.

Thereafter, he moved to Saltcoats where he also met his future wife Anne, who was also a serving officer there.

Ronnie briefly worked as an Area Constable in Ardrossan, and as a Bar Officer in Saltcoats again until 1991 when he was transferred back to Kilmarnock - where he was a Bar Officer and later a Divisional Controller.

Around 1996, he worked in Crime Pattern Analysis, and retired in 2000, having successfully set up the Sex Offenders Register for Ayrshire.

Ronnie's passing was announced by the Retired Police Officers Association Scotland Ayrshire Branch this week, who also confirmed that his funeral will be held on Thursday, July 11, beginning at 12.45pm at St Margaret's Parish Church in Dalry.

This will be followed by a burial at 1.45pm at the new Kilwinning Redston Cemetery.

After hearing of his passing, many former colleagues were quick to pay homage to Ronnie.

One said: "Really sad to hear this. Ronnie was bar officer at Saltcoats when I was promoted.

"He was a real help to a newly promoted sergeant and very good at giving me a nudge in the right direction when I needed it."

Another added: "Sad news, Ronnie was quite a character, very nice and full of fun. He will be missed by all. I send condolences to his family."