Organiser of charity duck race left baffled over supermarket snub

IT is an event which is unlikely to get the bookies in a flap.

• Bill MacDonald is no longer able to sell ducks for his charity race at Sainsbury's.

So the organiser of a long-running charity duck race said he was left bemused when the event was seemingly snubbed by a supermarket chain for being "a form of gambling".

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Bill MacDonald, who raised more than 1200 for Children First and the Scottish Huntington's Association through last year's race in Bonnyrigg, claims he was told by staff at Sainsbury's that he would no longer be allowed to sell his ducks in the Straiton store, despite having had a pitch there for the past nine years.

Mr MacDonald, 63, a former solicitor and mental health nurse who now works as a relief carer, said he was left "puzzled and disappointed".

He said: "I was there last year and there was no problem, but I've just heard they are refusing to allow me into the store to sell the ducks. When I phoned up I was told unfortunately it had been decided I was not allowed in the store because it's a form of gambling.

"It seems ridiculous to me. I don't see a moral or legal argument against it.

"It's not a personal commercial enterprise - it's a charity duck race.

"They are just little yellow ducks with numbers on and you float them down the stream.

"The first few to cross the finish line win prizes."

Mr MacDonald sells many of the ducks for the race in advance at 2 a time.

As well as selling them in Sainsbury's since he started the charity event, Mr MacDonald has also been selling them in Tesco and the Co-op, as well as at charity fairs with no problems.

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Mr MacDonald added: "We rely on supermarkets for quite a lot of sales and it's a good way of getting publicity."

After being contacted by the Evening News, a spokesman for Sainsbury's said the store manager was unaware that Mr MacDonald had been told he could not sell his ducks this year.

He said he would be happy to discuss the event.

A spokesman said: "Every store has its own local charity which it supports.

"The store manager wasn't there last year and doesn't know anything about it but would be very happy to have a chat with Bill."

The annual duck race takes place at the Pittendreich burn in Bonnyrigg and draws a big crowd.

Prizes on offer to the "owners" of the winning ducks this time include a signed copy of the autobiography of explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and two genuine South African vuvuzelas.

Mr MacDonald usually gets a Scottish sporting star to start the race. In January this year it was Edinburgh Rugby player Geoff Cross, but he has yet to arrange a star for the next race, which is expected to take place on January 16 or 23.