Plans have been unveiled for the creation of the Bill McLaren Centre of World Rugby in his home town of Hawick with the theme of the new centre being the story of rugby which, as far as possible, will be told in Bill’s own inimitible voice.
The ambitious plans for the £4m Centre include an interactive educational resource which will give youngsters the opportunity to learn the life skills and techniques that Bill practiced as a teacher, journalist and commentator.
It is hoped the project will be up and running within the next three years. The Bill McLaren Foundation proposes to raise this sum from a variety of sources including major funders.
These are exciting times for the Foundation, which was formed in March 2010, as it recently announced the launch of its grantmaking programme for which a number of applications have already been received.
Linda Lawson, Bill’s Daughter said “Our focus to date has been on developing the sport of Rugby Union and encouraging sporting opportunities for young people. We’re now delighted to be making progress with our third objective – Dad’s educative centre.
“The Centre is a very exciting project, the progress on which has come far faster than we anticipated. This is very much a longer term priority for the Foundation and we’re indebted to Scottish Borders Council for their help and enthusiasm getting the project thus far already.”
Chair of the Foundation, Malcolm Murray explained: “We are passionate about building what we think will be a huge worldwide attraction for past, present and future rugby fans. This is just the beginning of what is going to be a very challenging project.
"We need to source substantial funds – but I am confident we can make it happen with the support of our partners, friends and members of the community."
Alistair Moffat, Foundation Director, said: ”Bill McLaren’s legacy is in the moving image and his unique ability to describe it. TV can be ephemeral and it ages fast but our plans are to make it timeless and use predominantly Bill’s voice to tell the story of world rugby.
"It will be a thriving fast moving montage of pictures telling the history of this sport from the beginning. Bill’s wonderful voice has been compared to Tweed, rich textured and absolutely of this place.
“We are grateful for the support we have had so far in particular, BBC Scotland who have granted free access to their archive of matches on which Bill commentated. Their contribution will supply the backbone of the museum’s appeal."
“Working together, we can all bring to Scotland and the Borders an attraction that we can be proud of – and one Bill would have been proud of."
As part of its general fundraising to help support its encouragement and provision of sporting opportunities for young people the Foundation asks all fans of the late Bill McLaren to join their Supporters’ Club.
The Club features four categories of membership – individuals, schools, rugby clubs and corporate companies – with suggested annual donations starting at £20. To join and for more information, please visit www.billmclarenfoundation.co.uk/support