Bill’s makes a splash for kids’ charity cash

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A former paratrooper turned lollipop man has just 
completed a Boxing Day dip in the Firth of Clyde to raise money for charity.

Bill McNiff was the oldest participant in the Clic Sargent Boxing Day ‘Dip With a Nip’ at Prestwick.

And he’s also the most loyal participant, having taken part in every single event since it began nine years ago, and arguably its most energetic, too.

Bill (84), who lives in Braes O’ Yetts, Kirkintilloch, was in the parachute regiment for 16 years, then became a motor mechanic and since retiring has become the lollipop man on Merkland Drive.

He first took part in the event at Prestwick in aid of the children’s cancer charity nine years ago, and certainly goes at it with gusto.

He said: ‘‘Other people wear fancy dress and splash around, but I go for a proper swim.

‘‘I just wear my bathing trunks.

“And it doesn’t get any warmer each year!

‘‘I think this is a very good charity, it breaks my heart to see the children with cancer down at their holiday home.’’

Around 200 people took part in the annual event, many of them in full fancy dress, and thousands more line the seafront at Prestwick to see dip. All those aged over 18 enjoy a wee nip of whisky when they are finished.

This year Bill’s fundraising is already over £100, bringing his total over the years to more than £1000.

Bill has been married to wife Margaret for 61 years, and has three children and two grandchildren.

Clic Sargent spokeswomman May Gilchrist said: ‘‘We look forward to seeing Bill every year, he runs in and we put him right to the front.

“Other people just splash around but he is in for a proper swim.

‘‘Just before Christmas lightning hit our holiday home for children with cancer, damaging the roof.

“That put the Boxing day dip in doubt as the damage was so bad.

“Bill’s money will be used to put right the damage.”

She added: ‘‘The effort he puts in is tremendous, it makes such a difference to the charity.

‘‘He is our oldest participant and has been such a long-standing supporter, we are really hoping to have him take part in our tenth anniversary event next year.’’

Bill is still collecting cash on his official entry form, or you can donate in Bill’s name via the just giving site established by Clic Sargent after the ‘weatherbomb’ hit their building.