TAKE ME HOME

The Big Yin says wants to lay his bones by yon bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

Dick's boat on Loch Lomond

Idyllic – Billy Connolly years for days fishing for salmon on trout on Loch Lomond.

Report and pictures by Bill Heaney

Sir Billy Connolly has said he would like to die in his native heath by the Banks of Loch Lomond.

The Big Yin, who moved from New York to Florida two years ago, said he longed to return to the Scottish loch, where he played as a child from Partick who went there on day trips with during his time in the Cub Scouts.

And where he fished for salmon alongside some other kenspeckle figures from the Loch Lomond Angling Association.

In footage from his new programme, Billy Connolly’s Ultimate World Tour, the actor and presenter reminisces over his childhood from his Florida home.

Connolly BillyConnolly was an apprentice welder in John Brown’s shipyard in Clydebank and worked alongside the local craftsmen who built the great Atlantic liners.

He says: “I remember standing by the shores of Loch Lomond at Inversnaid and the sky was beautiful. I remember that line, I forget whose line it is: ‘Breathes there the man, with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, this is my own, my native land.’

“I don’t like to look like a bagpiper with heather in my ears but sometimes your love for the place just has to find a stage. I’d like to die there.  It’s a weird subject to bring up, but I’m 75. I wouldn’t like to stay away forever. I’d like to be planted there eventually, in Loch Lomond.”

In 2013, the comedian who once lived in Bonhill before moving to Drymen, revealed he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and prostate cancer on the same day.

He has since since been given the all clear for cancer and moved to Florida to fight the degenerative disorder.

ITV’s Ultimate World Tour will see Sir Billy, now 76, travel his newly adopted home state while looking back at his travels from the last 25 years, from Scotland to Canada and Australia.

About the series, he said: “It was exactly 25 years ago that I found myself taking the cameras out of the theatres and into the world.

“It’s a journey that’s taken me to far flung places and offered up once-in-a-lifetime experiences and I’m still discovering thrilling new stuff around every corner now I’ve pitched up in Florida.”

Marie Wingate greeted the Big Yin when he came to Milton Animal Home in Dumbarton many years ago.  Like Jessie Forrester, Marie was on the committee of the SPCA-run home.

Marie asked Billy if he would open one of the home’s famous fetes, which he happily agreed to do.

Her son, Jim Wingate, said: “My Mum was on the committee and asked Billy if he would open the fete.

“Mum said he was a gentleman and just an ordinary guy. I’m lucky to have this photo. It  makes me really proud now”

Billy at Milton

Mrs Marie Wingate and Billy Connolly at the opening of a fete at Milton Animal Rescue Centre. Pictures courtesy Jim Wingate

 

Bill Heaney

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