Kind-hearted Bill (83) takes the plunge for charity

An 83-year-old grandad gave up his Boxing Day and New Year’s Day to brave freezing water and raise vital funds for charity.
Bill McNiffBill McNiff
Bill McNiff

Kind-hearted Bill McNiff took part in the Boxing Day ‘Dip wi’ a Nip’ event in the Firth of Clyde, at Prestwick, for children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent.

And while most of us were celebrating New Year, Bill was diving into the Gareloch, at Rhu, in aid of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The former paratrooper and boxer, from Kirkintilloch, has taken part in the Boxing Day event since it started eight years ago.

Bill said: “It was quite a decent day, a bit cold, but there was a wee bit of sunshine. I’ve done it when it’s been six degrees below freezing.

“Most of the people taking part don’t swim, but are in fancy dress and splash about.

“I’ve raised about £97 so far, but I’m hoping to double that. I like to do what I can to help the charities. I have met some of the children at Malcolm Sargent House.

Bill added: “I’ve been doing the Gareloch swim for 15 years. It was really cold. I normally swim 25 metres, but did about 50 metres this year. I struggled a bit, but I did it.

“There were a couple of hundred people there and a lot of youngsters. And there’s always a tremendous number of spectators.”

Bill got involved in the swimming events after joining the Polar Bear Club, which requires members to complete a series of swims in cold water.

Bill has vowed to continue doing the events for as long as he can and has even signed up for another ambitious challenge later this year.

He will take part in the Kiltwalk Glasgow to Loch Lomond 23 mile hike on April 27. The walk will raise funds for six charities, including CLIC Sargent.

Despite most people his age taking it easy, Bill is a regular at the gym and also enjoys swimming. He has completed an impressive 22 marathons and half-marathons throughout the country, including Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling and Edinburgh, and only took up running at the age of 60.

Bill said: “I’ve kept fit all my life. I boxed when I was young and then took up running when I was 60.

“I really enjoy running and training. I always wanted to do the New York marathon, but I never got round to it. I do a lot of walking and look forward to any challenge.”

May Gilchrist, area fundraising manager with CLIC Sargent, said: “The ‘Dip wi’ a Nip’ went brilliantly. The sun came out for us and I can honestly say it was one of our best events yet. Over 200 people took part this year and we will have raised in excess of £20,000, which is great.

“I would like to thank everyone who took part, volunteered or donated for supporting the work we do for children with cancer in Scotland. We couldn’t do it without you.”

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