A NEW exhibition to celebrate the centenary of Bill McLaren’s birth opens on October 4 at the Hawick Museum in the Voice of Rugby’s home town.

Tracing the life of the much-loved broadcaster the exhibition combines a collection of hitherto unseen artefacts from Bill’s career and life in an immersive digital gallery which includes a recreation of Bill’s chaotic study, where visitors will hear Bill speaking to them in the very last interview he ever gave from a concealed loud speaker.

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Elsewhere in the gallery visitors will be invited to “Be Bill”, to sit behind a broadcast microphone watching a monitor, just like Bill did, to record their efforts to describe Tony Stanger’s winning score in Scotland’s 1990 Grand Slam victory.

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Alongside the interactive commentary booth visitors can see Tony’s number 14 shirt, his Scotland cap, a commemorative Grand Slam Dram, the original Big Sheet Bill prepared for that game and a painting of the Scotland team by Ronnie Brown of the Corries.

Local historian, Dr Murray Watson, who helped curate the exhibition and who has known Bill since he was a wee boy said, “Bill was a multi-faceted character and was much more than just the Voice of Rugby. We plan to surprise and delight visitors using rarely seen memorabilia and photos, plus an array of innovative digital technology.

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“The design team has managed to create several wow moments, and from the minute visitors enter the gallery they should feel the hair stand up on the backs of their necks”.

Research for the exhibition has revealed a number of untold stories about Bill.

Amongst other things, the research team discovered that, aged 15, Bill was in the crowd at Twickenham in 1938 at the first match ever to be televised live.

Until now no one has identified this extraordinary coincidence. Researchers also found a cartoon drawn by Open Golf Champion, Bernhard Langer, thanking Bill for a putting lesson.

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Ewan Jackson, chief executive of Live Borders said: “This is one of the most ambitious exhibitions we have ever held. It is highly appropriate to hold it in the Hawick Museum, located as it is opposite Bill’s family home at Hillersden.

“Visitors to the exhibition will cross the new McLaren Footbridge before passing the Bill McLaren statue which draws top rugby stars like David Campese and Scott Quinnell to pay their respects. Bill’s widow, Bette, used to talk to it when she went on walks in Wilton Lodge Park.

“We are very proud to organise this exhibition and are grateful to all the staff, contributors and stakeholders involved – a true team effort”.

The exhibition has received generous support from Clyde Wind Farm SSE Renewables, MOI-Global, Scottish Borders Council Community Fund and Scottish Rugby.

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Lindsay Dougan from main sponsor Clyde Wind Farm said, “Bill McLaren was one of nature’s gentlemen who lived a life of colossal achievement. We are delighted to help fund this important exhibition and in the process enable the organisers to engage the creative skills of the Hawick-based Alchemy Film and Arts to produce some exciting interactive digital technology to tell Bill’s story and create a special visitor experience”.

The exhibition has been organised by Live Borders, working in partnership with the Bill McLaren Foundation and the Hawick Rugby Club.

Linda Lawson, Bill’s daughter and trustee of the Bill McLaren Foundation, said, “Dad had a way with words. To paraphrase one of his better known sayings, ‘join us for a day in Hawick for a day that won’t be wasted’”.