Bill Prentice

Bill Prentice

Bill Prentice was born in 1923 at Haddington where his father was a watchmaker.

One of a family of six; two brothers - Tommy (a blacksmith) and John (an artist), and three sisters – Winnie who became a councillor; Mary Mackay 14 years his junior and only surviving sibling and Dr Helen Crummy MBE who founded the Craigmillar Festival Society and is mother of Dr. Andrew Crummy designer of the Prestonpans Tapestry, the Great Tapestry of Scotland and the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry.

After starting work as an apprentice bookbinder he worked his way up to foreman with various Scottish companies then in 1960 moved to a managerial position with a printer in Slough, Buckinghamshire. During his career he worked on the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

He wanted to join the RAF along with several pals but they were accepted and Bill wasn’t. Bill survived the war but his friends didn’t. He joined the Navy, serving for 4 years in various parts of the world as maintenance crew with the Fleet Air Arm.

In 1944 he married Nancy, a marriage that lasted 62 years until her death in 2006. They had a son who died in 1982.

1984 saw Bill come to Bonnyrigg where he worked tirelessly in the voluntary sector holding various offices, among them:
Chairman of the Bonnyrigg Branch of the Scottish Pensioners Association
Chairman of Bonnyrigg Seniors Social Club
Secretary Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Seniors
Forum Board member of Midlothian Voluntary Action
Ran a sequence dancing club in Bonnyrigg.
Entertained residents at Nazareth House, Bonnyrigg by playing the mouthorgan.
Helped out with the shopping bus

Around 2007 Bill became involved with Black Diamond FM, Midlothian’s Community radio station where, along with Ted Comerford, they presented a weekly show, Seniors’ Hour, billed as ‘by the elderly, for the elderly’. They were not great fans of the post Beatles era, their kind of music was from the 20s, 30s, and 40s the days of big bands and the crooners. In 2012, the late John Ritchie, then chairman at Black Diamond FM, said of them “Their brief is simple – entertain and they are entertaining.“

Sadly Ted passed away in 2014 but Bill continued his commitment to entertain with his programme being broadcast every Sunday afternoon.

At the recent Your Question Time event held at Newbattle High School, Council Leader Derek Milligan singled Bill out as the person he felt was most worthy of an award for all he did for the voluntary sector in Midlothian.

Black Diamond FM Chairman, Bob Miller, said “At the age of 96 we believe Bill was the oldest active radio presenter in the UK. To recognise Bill’s continuing contribution we nominated him in the National Community Radio Awards last year. To achieve the Bronze Award at that level in the Sage category reflects the quality of Bill’s work and that will be an incredibly hard gap to fill. Our thoughts are with his family, particularly with his sister Mary, niece Helen and his good friend Rosie.”

His health had been failing for some time and died on 11 July 2019 at Bonnyrigg Community Hospital. On Sunday 14 July Black Diamond FM’s long serving member Gordon Clayton and Chairman Bob Miller took over Seniors’ Hour to chat, play some of ‘his kind of music’ and reflect upon what Bill did for Black Diamond FM.

His funeral will be held on Wednesday 24 July at 2pm at Mortonhall Main Chapel.