My friend ‘The Voice’

A FRIENDSHIP with late Borders rugby broadcaster, Bill McLaren, has helped a Welsh couple raise thousands for cancer charities.

Retired butcher, Bill “Butch” Keylock and his wife Lorna, from Brecon in mid-Wales, first got to know “The Voice of Rugby” more than 15 years ago.

The initial contact came about when a friend of the couple’s in Selkirk got a contact telephone number for the Hawick rugby legend.

Brian and Lorna wanted to ask Bill if he could help them acquire some international rugby jerseys to raffle in aid of cancer charities in Wales.

For years the couple have raffled off rugby jerseys donated by opponents of Wales in the Six Nations, autumn internationals and world cup.

Brian took up the story: “Bill very kindly phoned me one day and we chatted and he got us a signed Scotland shirt and he then proceeded to help with that every time Scotland played Wales. We talked frequently on the phone and became very friendly,” said Brian, now retired from the butchery trade after 50 years and who attended the memorial service for Bill at Murrayfield in 2010.

Between 1968 and 2008, Brian and his wife raised £65,000 for Cancer Research and still continue to fundraise for charity.

In that time they have received signed rugby jerseys donated by everyone from Wallabies legendary wing, David Campese, to the England team.

“I consider myself very lucky to have had a friendship with Bill – he was a great man and was marvellous to us over those 15 years.”

And with thoughts turning to another clash between the two rugby nations on Saturday, Brian sent us a copy of the poem he penned in tribute to Bill.

THE game is over, the whistle’s been blown,

Time for the great player to make his way home

He played with enthusiasm, gusto and gall

Like his life depended on just getting the ball

His name was McLaren, remember it well

For this is the story I’m about to tell,

Yes, he was Scottish, and proud of the fact,

His way was forward, no turning back.

As a young man he was stricken by the TB germ

But he still struggled on, term and after term.

This was no ordinary boy, he had little choice

But the dear Lord had gifted him a fantastic voice

He went to the army and fought for his life

Against Mussolini in that terrible strife,

They made him a prisoner and locked him away,

But thankfully he returned to us, late one May.

He married our Bette,a fine looking pair,

Tall and elegant with plenty of love to spare,
They had a family, two little girls

Life was so different then, all roundabouts and swirls.

Bill became a teacher and he taught PE

Physical education to you and me,

But his real love was rugby, that funny old game

That’s when The Beeb raised him to fame.

“Arms like an octopus, rampaging bull,

Kick ahead laddie, push, dona pull.”

His comments were brilliant and never the same

The voice was a legend in this rugby game.

Now sadly the game’s over, the great man has gone home,

No more Six Nations, no more will he roam,

But don’t grieve my people, it was not his choice,

It was just our Dear Lord wanting to hear that incredible voice.