THE family of a "wee warrior" from Kilwinning have led tributes to their "bright and beautiful" girl after she died at the age of 12 following a brave two-year cancer battle.

Ava Nelson was surrounded by family and loved ones when she passed away peacefully on Tuesday, April 16.

The Pennyburn Primary pupil had fought courageously ever since specialists at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital diagnosed her with glioma, a highly aggressive brain tumour, while she was still just 10 years old.

The tumour was described as "inoperable and incurable", and the diagnosis turned her family's life upside down.

But Ava never let the disease keep her down, and her story, bravery and personality touched many lives and left a lasting impact in the area.

And those she met in hospital were always amazed at how she dealt with all that came her way with a smile on her face.

Ava and her family have spent much of the last two years making memories which will last for a lifetime.

Hundreds paid tribute and sent their condolences when mum Jackie Dunlop, dad Roland Nelson and step-dad Eddie Renor told friends of Ava's death.

Irvine Times: Ava Nelson battled cancer with strength and bravery for nearly two years.

Jackie said: "Devastated ain’t the word. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my whole entire life is watch my baby slip away in front of my eyes.

"Nearly two years you were fighting this battle, and not once did you ever moan or groan about a single thing.

"You sailed through treatment, and just took it like the absolute warrior that you are.

"Please shine down on us all. I’m so proud to be your mum."

Eddie added: "I'm devastated that my stepdaughter/sidekick and the bravest lassie I know Ava has passed today.

"She's gained her wings and flying high with the angels. Until we meet again my wee warrior."

Many of those who had the chance to meet the brave Kilwinning girl over the last two years were also quick to pay tribute.

One said: "She was such a fighter until the end and she made us all so proud of her.

"I'll never forget you. It was a blessing to have you in my life. You're always in my heart and my thoughts.

"Every one that knows Ava will know what a kind amazing person she is, she will be missed by loads. Forever 12."

Another added: "Ava has been such an amazing fighter until the end. She’s made such an impact, brought so much laughter, and could light up a room with such a beautiful smile.

"She was absolutely carefree, and no matter the situation always made it better.

Irvine Times: Ava Nelson battled cancer with strength and bravery for nearly two years.

"Ava, it was such a blessing knowing you, watching you gain your goals and accomplishments, and to watch you grow into a beautiful girl.

"You’ve made such an impact on anyone’s lives that may have crossed your path. Fly high, princess."

A family friend said: "She fought with courage, strength, dignity and so much grace.

"Ava was bright and beautiful both inside and out, with an ability to light up every room she entered.

"She loved each day with joy and wonder, showing all of us how to live our best lives.

"Ava was an inspiration, and always had a smile on her face, no matter what she was going through."

The football team run by Eddie and Jackie, The Elms FC, will pay tribute to Ava at their next match this weekend.

Friends and family are being invited to the team's match against Irvine Rangers, at The Circuit in Irvine, this Sunday, April 21, to pay their respects.

A minute's silence will be held before the match begins at 12.30pm, and The Elms' players will wear black armbands.

A celebration of Ava's life will take place at Holmsford Bridge Crematorium in Irvine on Friday, May 10 at 10.30am, before tea at Playz in Pennyburn.

All those who would like to attend to give Ava the send-off she deserves are asked to wear purple, with the family adding: "This was our wee champ's favourite colour."

There will be a collection for Robin's House Children's Hospice at the service.

Our thoughts go out to Ava's family and loved ones.