McLaren museum project deserves support from us all

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THE timing could hardly have been better.

Just days after Hawick came together in the harshest of economic times to mark its glorious past and celebrate its enduring community spirit, plans are unveiled to create in the town a museum of rugby in honour of the late, great, Bill McLaren.

When it comes to fruition, it will be a fantastic project with huge potential to be marketed across the globe.

And when lined up alongside ambitious proposals, admittedly much further advanced, to tranform Abbotsford into a world-class visitor attraction, it will be a significant tourism boost to a region which has proved notoriously difficult to market, if only for its size and geographical diversity.

Bill McLaren was described at the weekend as “Hawick’s greatest ambassador of recent times”.

That is certainly true, but the humble commentator helped paint, in his unmistakable vocal tones, a romantic, unique and beguiling picture of our Borderland, as vividly as Tom Scott RSA – and without the somewhat gauche literary brushstrokes of Sir Walter Scott.

So while Hawick will be the principal beneficiary of this magnificent venture, our region as a whole will also reap the rewards.

And that is why the efforts to raise the estimated £4million to realise the vision of the Bill McLaren Foundation must not be confined to his native town.

Hawick has been out on a limb for too long, hit hardest by the decline in traditional manufacturing and not deemed worthy of a rail link. It is impossible to have a successful Borders if its largest town is in the doldrums, and the rugby museum project gives us all a chance to “rally roond”, as Teries did so admirably and spontaneously with their Cornet at the weekend.

Rugby also unites the Borders and those behind the museum project are looking for ideas, as well as financial largesse.

So let us get behind this unique venture in a spirit of unity, putting parochial considerations to one side for the greater good.

And when the museum becomes a reality, we will all be dancing in the streets!