Invergowrie swimming coach Bill was one in a million

Residents from Perthshire and beyond paid touching tributes to a much-loved swimming coach this week after he sadly passed away from coronavirus.

Bill Craig died at Ninewells Hospital at the age of 81 after contracting the virus while being treated for a mild stroke.

Invergowrie -based Bill was due to be discharged after treatment but spent his final days in a high dependency ward until his death on Monday, November 30.

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His funeral was held at Invergowrie Parish Church on Monday before a gathering was held at Birkhill Cemetery.

Popular Bill taught hundreds of children in Perth and Kinross and Tayside to swim for 25 years and was best known as an inspirational coaching stalwart for Dundee Arnhall Swimming Club.

He also coached at schools across Tayside and was regularly flown to Shetland and Orkney to prepare young swimmers for the international Natwest Island Games.

Bill lectured at Perth College UHI for students in the electrical courses having worked as an engineer for Scottish Hydro Electric for 30 years.

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Daughter Ashley revealed that a huge number of messages in tribute have flooded in since Bill’s passing and are a testament to how popular and respected he was.

Ashley said: “If he could see all the messages that had poured in for him and everything comes out the same – of how friendly he was.

Bill (second from right) with his wife Margaret and three children, Ashley, Dean and Mandy

“We used to laugh about him because we could never go any place without him speaking to absolutely everybody.

“He was just an encouraging type of person, so for lecturing and coaching he was the ideal person because regardless of your ability he’d tell people to keep pushing themselves.

“He really liked the coaching and helping the kids and even when he stepped down as a swimming coach he still taught at schools locally.

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“He also always pushed us to do what we wanted to do. We have been very lucky.”

Before Bill contracted the virus a number of his former students also recorded touching video tributes wishing him well for a full recovery from his stroke.

“A lot of the messages that came through were saying ‘he pushed us, so now we are encouraging you’”, Ashley added.

“And that was just at the point were he was in with a stroke and was bad enough that he couldn’t come home.

“Then after we found out he had tested positive it just went downhill from there really. It was a really horrible thing to see.”

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Due to current restrictions Bill’s shielding wife Margaret (78) and the rest of the family were unable to be by his bedside.

And Ashley feels Bill’s death highlights that the virus should never be taken lightly even with the first coronavirus vaccines being rolled out this month.

“I think it is really hard for him to go through nine months of shielding and watching the news and seeing how horrific it is, then when somebody tells you, you have got COVID it must just be the worst feeling ever,” Ashley added.

“It was really heartbreaking, more so for mum because you still can’t get past the front door of Ninewells.

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“It is a hard pill to swallow.

“The mentality of some is that the vaccine is being rolled out now so that is the virus gone.

“I fear that since there is a vaccine some think things can go back to normal now – but it is not the case as it will still be a few months before that can happen.”

Bill is survived by Margaret, their three children and six grandchildren.

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