THERE has been an outpouring of tributes following the loss of Michael Giannandrea – a "tireless champion of human rights" in Forth Valley.

Michael was the chairperson of the Central Scotland Regional Equality Council (CSREC) and has battled for equality in the area for more than four decades.

His ancestors moved from Italy to Stirling in the late 19th century and he dedicated his life to helping those who chose Scotland to settle in and raise a family.

With CSREC, he worked across Clackmannanshire to improve the lives of all those living in the community. He spoke up for marginalised voices and hosted equality hustings before the local council elections and snap General Election in 2017.

Michael passed away on Saturday and is survived by his two sons a daughter.

A spokesperson for CSREC said: "It is with great sadness that we have to inform you that CSREC's chairperson Michael Giannandrea passed away peacefully earlier today (March 30).

"Michael was associated with CSREC and equality work over the past 40 years. Michael took charge as the chairperson of CSREC five and a half years back, in very trying circumstances, and he persevered with determination to bring the organisation to where it is today.

"It was Michael's wish that CSREC should be a...go-to organisation that for anyone facing inequality and discrimination in Forth Valley. He was always keen to speak about equality-related issues that were emerging and know how we were addressing them."

Former colleague Kenny Muir added: "[Michael was] a tireless champion of human rights; he was a beacon of light in the community; and a help and inspiration to countless people over the years.

"In CSREC's ongoing good work advancing human rights, equality, diversity and social cohesion and tackling prejudice and discrimination in all of its forms, Michael's positive legacy and his love for people shall proudly live on.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Michael's family and his beloved colleague"

News of his passing was met with further tributes and expressions of condolence on social media.

Mohammed Razaq added: "Sorry to hear the sad passing away of Michael; he, indeed, was a champion for equality and a gentleman.

"The community of central Scotland has lost a great advocate and a fighter for equality. May he rest in peace always."

Michael's daughter Ruth posted a message on the CSREC Facebook thanking all those who have reached out over the weekend.

She said: "My dad was very passionate about the work he did with CSREC; he always spoke very highly of all the people he worked with.

"He raised the three of us to be open minded and compassionate, just like he was. It makes me happy to see he had a positive impact on so many people."