TRIBUTES have poured in following the death of a much-loved Ayrshire journalist.

Iain Ferguson's career included spells editing several Ayrshire Weekly Press titles, including the Ayr Advertiser, Troon and Prestwick Times, Irvine Times and Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald.

After leaving journalism he spent 20 years as the head of PR at Ayr Racecourse.

He also penned a weekly racing column for the Ayrshire Weekly Press group of newspapers - a column he kept up after retiring from the racecourse's PR team last year.

Iain was raised in Prestwick, and went on to have an illustrious career working across the media both in Ayrshire and wider Scotland.

He passed away in hospital, following a short illness.

Iain was a much respected journalist, who began his career in his hometown back in 1971 where he worked with Bernard Press at Prestwick Airport.

From there, he then joined the Ayrshire Weekly Press team, before leaving to join the Daily Record in 1989.

He was appointed deputy news editor of the Sunday Mail 10 years later and worked his way up to the post of assistant editor before returning to the Record.

He had two spells hosting and producing the sports show on West Sound, from 1987-89 and 2003-05.

After leaving journalism he was appointed to the role of head of public relations at Ayr Racecourse, a post he held for 20 years before retiring in September 2022 - though he continued to contribute to the racecourse's PR team on a part-time basis.

Iain's racing column, The Home Straight, was a much-loved feature of the Ayrshire Weekly Press group of newspapers from early 2018 until he fell ill earlier this month.

Among the first to pay tribute was former First Minister Nicola Sturgon - Iain's niece.

In a statement posted on social media Ms Sturgeon said: "My wonderful Uncle Iain, known to many in the journalist world, has passed away.

"I hero-worshipped Iain when I was a wee girl and have looked up to him all my life.

"He and I shared a love of books and constantly texted each other recommendations.

"I will miss him so much."

A spokesperson for Ayr Racecourse added: "It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of our recently retired head of PR, Iain Ferguson, after a short illness.

"Iain was a much loved member of the Racecourse and Western House Hotel team for 20 years and our thoughts are with Elaine, Lorna, Emma and all the Ferguson family at this sad time.

"We were delighted that he agreed to stay on at Ayr in a part-time role after his retirement last September and will provide any further updates in accordance with the family's wishes in due course."

The racecourse's current head of PR, former TV sports presenter Jim Delahunt, added: "I was honoured to take over from Iain at Ayr Racecourse 10 months ago and was delighted that he stayed on to contribute in a part-time capacity.

"We're all shocked at his passing and all my thoughts are with the family at this time."

Iain was also a well known Ayr United fan, and the club he supported also passed on their condolences.

They said: "The club were saddened to hear of the passing of Iain Ferguson.

"Iain was an Honest Man and had recently assisted the club with skill and professionalism at events such as our Player of the Year awards and Burns Supper.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends."