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Sports award to be presented at Highlands and Islands Media Awards in memory of journalist Bill McAllister

By Val Sweeney

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Ker Bet and Gemma McAllister with the memorial trophy.
Ker Bet and Gemma McAllister with the memorial trophy.

A major journalism award is to be presented in memory of writer and broadcaster Bill McAllister who died last April.

Bill (78), who was a columnist for the Inverness Courier, was highly respected in journalism and sports circles for more than 60 years.

He was a colourful and engaging writer, broadcaster and after dinner speaker who also served as a local councillor.

The Bill McAllister Memorial Trophy will be presented to the Sports Reporter of the Year at the annual Highlands and Islands Media Awards next month.

The award is open to writers and broadcasters delivering a wide range of sports coverage in the area.

This year's shortlisted contenders are Andrew Henderson, Highland News and Media, Craig Christie, Highland News and Media and Eric Mackinnon, Stornoway Gazette.

The winner will be presented with the award at the Highlands and Islands Press Ball on February 2 at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness.

Bet McAllister, Bill’s widow and a Highland councillor, said: "Bill’s family is very proud that this prestigious award will be given to sports journalists in his memory.

"He was such a big part of journalism in the Highlands and Islands for so long and this ensures his name will continue to be remembered for many years to come.”

Bill McAllister died last April.
Bill McAllister died last April.

Nicola McAlley, who chairs the Highlands and Islands Media Awards judging panel, said: "Bill was a stalwart of the sports scene and a fantastic character with an anecdote for every occasion.

"He was a giant in terms of journalism in the Highlands and it is very fitting that his legacy will be honoured and remembered from now on by future winners of this category."

Bill joined the North Star in Dingwall aged 16 and two years later moved to the Highland News in Inverness.

He subsequently joined the Press and Journal, where he worked for 24 years.

During that time he was Highland sports editor, North news editor and the paper’s first Highland editor.

He was also the Press and Journal’s shinty correspondent for many years until shortly before his death.

In 1990, he set up his own press and public relations company and was founder and editor of Highland Football and Sport, the first monthly magazine devoted to the North game.

Bill’s entertaining reporting style generated a huge interest in the Highland League in print and also on BBC Radio Scotland for many years.

In 1993, he wrote the history of the first 100 years of the Highland League, The Highland Hundred.

He also enjoyed researching local history projects and writing a weekly column in the Inverness Courier.

In addition, he was commissioned by the Inverness Football Memories Project research and record the history of professional football in Inverness since around 1885.

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