MESSAGES of love and affection have poured in for a Neilston lollipop man after he lost his battle with coronavirus at the age of 73.

Robert Fraser Fox lived his entire life in the village before he passed away at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, in Paisley, on February 12.

Following retirement from his role as senior supervisor with East Renfrewshire Council’s cleansing department, he spent the last decade of his life helping children across the road near Neilston Primary and the Madras Family Centre.

He is also fondly remembered for his special visits to the school and St Thomas’ Primary at Christmas time, dressed up as Santa Claus.

Parents and residents have paid tribute to a “true gentleman” who always had a cheery smile for everyone and was adored by the youngsters he helped.

His proud son, also Robert, said the family has taken comfort from knowing he touched so many lives in a positive way.

“My dad loved being a lollipop man and Santa,” he told the Barrhead News. “At Easter, Christmas and Hallowe’en, he would make up wee bags of sweets for the kids.

“Nothing was ever too much trouble and he never had a bad word to say about anybody. He was just such a really nice, down-to-earth, placid guy whose family meant the world to him.”

Robert met his future wife Phyllis when they both worked at the mill in Neilston and the pair later married at St Thomas’ Church in 1968.

Along with Robert, who was born in 1970, the couple also became parents to Lorna in 1969 and Lisa in 1972.

The keen football fan doted on his eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A talented player in his day, Robert turned out for Kingston and Neilston amateurs, among others, and passed on his love of the beautiful game to his son, who played for several Junior teams and later managed Neilston Juniors.

Several of his grandchildren have played for Barrhead Boys’ Club and Neilston Juniors’ youth teams.

Gerard Curley, headteacher at Neilston Primary, described Robert – whose funeral took place on March 2 – as “much appreciated and adored.”

He said: “Robert was a pillar of the community and more to our school than just the lollipop man. He supported the school and family centre every day of his working life, ensuring our young people arrived safely.

“However, he also took great pride in his other very important job – helping with the delivery of some very special gifts at a particularly special time of the year.

“We will miss him greatly across our community. On behalf of the young people and staff, our thoughts are with Robert’s family at this difficult time.”

Councillor Paul O’Kane, who represents Neilston, said he was sad to learn of Robert’s death, describing him as “a valued member of the council family for many years.”

“His many colleagues will be saddened by this loss,” he added.