South Scotland

Hawick digital rugby heritage archive drives forward

Bill McLaren Image copyright Bill McLaren Foundation
Image caption Bill McLaren gathered thousands of items relating to the game during his years as a commentator

Rugby fans from around the world could soon be able to view a "treasure trove" of memorabilia collected by the "voice of rugby" Bill McLaren.

Thousands of items belonging to the world-renowned commentator have been transferred to Hawick's Heritage Hub.

A similar amount of material from Hawick Rugby Club is to be moved to the site over the coming weeks.

Digital technology will then be used to take the sporting photos and documents to an audience "all over the world."

Image copyright Hawick Rugby Club
Image caption The material will be made available digitally to rugby fans around the world

Rugby commentator Mr McLaren, who was from Hawick, died in January 2010 at the age of 86.

A foundation was set up in his honour and it has now signed a memorandum of understanding with Hawick Rugby Club and Live Borders - the trust which runs museums and libraries in the region.

They will take forward the digital archive which emerged as the favoured option for the collection after a community consultation last year.

Image caption The digital archive is being set up in Mr McLaren's home town of Hawick

In a joint statement Ross Cameron, a Bill McLaren Foundation trustee, and Paul Brough, Live Borders' archive manager, said: "We are delighted to be working as partners.

"This is a fantastic, world class collection of rugby-related materials.

"Working together we intend to realise the exciting plans given such an enthusiastic thumbs up by the feasibility study conducted by Alan Jones Associates for Hawick Rugby Club last year."

Murray Watson, a Hawick Rugby Club member and honorary research fellow at the University of Dundee, has spent the last two-and-a-half years finding and sorting all the material.

He said the next step would be to start "fundraising in earnest".

Image copyright Richard Dorrell
Image caption Documents, photos and other memorabilia have been moved to Hawick's Heritage Hub

"Our plans involve creatively harnessing modern digital technology to bring this unique collection to a diverse range of audiences," he said.

Linda Lawson, Bill McLaren's daughter, said: "Dad would have been absolutely delighted with this news.

"He gathered and kept so much stuff from way back in his teenage years,

"It is a veritable treasure trove that people from all over the world will soon be able to enjoy."

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