Youngsters given chance to emulate Bill McLaren

BBC Radio's Bill Johnstone attends yesterday's launch. Picture: SNS
BBC Radio's Bill Johnstone attends yesterday's launch. Picture: SNS
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THE charity foundation set up in memory of the late BBC commentator Bill McLaren has launched a schools competition that it is hoped will unearth a successor to the legendary broadcaster.

McLaren himself, famously, became a commentator after a short trial at a Hawick match for BBC radio while working for the local newspaper in his native Hawick. Yesterday, the great Scot would have been celebrating his 90th birthday had he still been alive, and the Bill McLaren Foundation [BMF] chose that day to launch the competition at Mansfield Park.

Under the banner “90 years, 90 seconds... one amazing opportunity”, McLaren’s daughter Linda Lawson explained the idea behind the initiative.

“The idea of the contest is to promote the values that Dad always believed in as both a broadcaster and PE teacher,” she said.

“We’ll be looking for young people to learn as they have fun with the project and, hopefully, we might also find the next, great sports broadcaster.”

All clubs and schools are invited to submit a 90-second video with commentary on their favourite activity and with McLaren having taught a wide variety of sports, and country dancing, the BMF have left it open to schools to decide on what activity they wish to turn the spotlight. There will be two entry categories covering primary and secondary school age-groups and the top five from each category will receive a £500 cash prize for their club or school, as well as behind-the-scenes prizes involving Scottish teams and the Edinburgh and Glasgow clubs.

The ten winning teams will also be invited to Murrayfield to commentate on 90 seconds of 1990 Grand Slam footage in a final contest to determine two ultimate winners who will receive the chance to experience commentary at an international sporting occasion in May.

The judging panel will include Scotland’s male cap and points’ record-holder Chris Paterson, Linda Lawson, BBC Radio Scotland rugby commentator Bill Johnstone, and BBC Scotland’s editor of news and sport Tom Connor, and Dominic McKay, the SRU’s director of commercial operations, communications and public affairs.

The Bill McLaren Foundation was established in March 2010, two months after his death, with three clear aims: to develop and promote rugby union and its value throughout the rugby world, encourage and provide sporting opportunities for young people, and to create an educative centre including the Bill McLaren archive.

It has since disbursed £250,000 to good causes, with grassroots rugby and a variety of further initiatives targeted at widening sporting opportunities across the world.

Visit: for more details.