TULLIBODY is united in grief this week after the news that long-standing community servant Donald Drysdale had passed away.

Described as a "gentle, honest man" with a "wonderful sense of humour", the 74-year-old remains a well-known character in the town, especially at Tron Court.

There he ran his family business, the Tron Cafe for around 47 years, having opened it up with his wife Emma in the early 70s.

And though he was well-known through his trade, he was also thought of as a cornerstone in Tullibody and, indeed, further afield.

He was a member of the Rotary Club of Alloa, including a spell as president in 94-95, and he constantly demonstrated the principle of "service above self".

Over the festive periods, he gave up weekends for the organisation's Santa's Grotto to ensure children experienced a special visit.

Kevin McLeod, president, described Donald as a true gent who was a pleasure to be around.

He said: "His passing will leave a huge void in our club as well as the other organisations he was involved in.

"Members have known Donald for many years and would describe him as a great servant to the local area whilst being a gentle, honest man."

Kevin added: "With a wonderful sense of humour Donald always had plenty to say in our meetings whilst consistently demonstrating the principle of service above self by supporting and contributing to ensure the success of club events.

"Donald's role as Santa in our annual collection at Sterling Furniture Warehouse would see him give up weekends every year much to the delight of children who often travelled quite a distance to see him year after year.

"Willing to give as much time as the children needed his calm nature often helped younger children overcome any fears. His boots will be hard to fill.

"Often found in the shop Donald was always willing to provide a coffee and an ear for anyone that required it.

"It was a pleasure to have known him and our sympathy goes to Emma, Lisa, Gemma and the wider family."

John Patton, a friend and former headteacher at Banchory Primary School, spoke of Donald's ability to touch the lives of others.

He noted his humility, respect for the dignity of others, his ability to listen and share experience.

He said: "He was one of those constants in the community who serve as landmarks in the lives of others.

"I have known him for over 30 years as parent of two pupils in my school, neighbour and valued friend.

"When I decided to make a short documentary about Tullibody, he was a first choice as contributor.

"My aim was to seek the views of those who lived and worked there and it could not have been made without the substantial and considered input of my friend, Donald.

"He eulogised the village and its people and, clearly, it was the well, along with his family, from which he drew inspiration for the many aspects of a diverse life.

"He was from a generation for whom hard work, community and concern for those around him were the cornerstones of life."

His loss will be strongly felt in Tullibody, where local councillor George Matchett said his contribution has been "immense".

He has known Donald for most of his life and is engaging with the council to see if a plaque, or something similar, can be established in his memory.

The intention would be to place it in close proximity to the cafe where people can see it.

He said: "He was very good with the schools, he was very good with community organisations, very good with pensioners and, in fact, any organisation that originated out of Tullibody.

"Donald was never short of coming forward and offering them support.

"He was very important to us, without a shadow of a doubt, and will be very, very sorely missed."

The impact of his passing will be echoed throughout Tron Court, where traders enjoy a close relationship with one another.

Tracy Gibson, community development worker at Tullibody Healthy Living, based in the area, said he will be sadly missed.

She lamented: "Donald Drysdale wasn’t just a businessman in Tullibody, he was a member of the community who was known by everyone, both young and old.

"He was very supportive of our work at Tullibody Healthy Living, especially at the community garden where he helped us through his contact with local farmers."

And John Friel, owner of Tron Court Newsagents, feels he was one of life's most "amazing people".

He said: "I have been in Tron Court now for over 20 years and...Donald was one of the first people that I came across when I arrived and I just found him very friendly and helpful.

"If the world had more Donald Drysdales, it would be a better place, that's for sure."

A memorial service for Donald will be held at St Mungo's Parish Church, Alloa, on Tuesday, January 16, at 10.30am.