Final salute to an ‘old soldier’

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ONE of Motherwell’s best known ‘old soldiers’, Bill Valentine, has died at the age of 87 following a short illness.

Bill was featured in the Motherwell Times on many occasions through the years due to his work as a former chairman of the Lanarkshire branch of the Royal Marines Association and with Poppyscotland.

He was also a keen supporter of Erskine Hospital which included spending two decades as the annual organiser for the Motherwell and Wishaw Men’s Fellowship events such as a church service and bowling match to raise funds for the charity.

MARINES

Bill was born in High Blantyre in 1925, one of eight children. When World War Two came he aided the cause as a runner for the ARP and despite having a reserved occupation in the steel industry, as soon as he turned 18 in 1943, applied to join the Marines.

Keen to address the balance from the failed Dieppe raid a few months earlier, Bill was desperate to join the Marines and when told he would be perfect as a stoker in the Navy, threatened to go home until he got his way.

Initially deployed to North Africa by which time the action there was over, he became coxswain of a landing craft crew and took his colleagues into action in Sicily and Italy.

He often remarked he was in Europe before D-Day and celebrated VE Day in Venice.

Bill moved to Motherwell in 1952 after marrying Jenny (nee Johnstone) in Dalziel North Church and the couple set up home in Catherine Street.

At this time he worked as a progress clerk at Rolls Royce in Blantyre, but when they moved the factory to Hillington, he didn’t like the commute and switched to Clydesdale Steel Works in Mossend rising to the position of raw materials supervisor before his retirement in 1984.

By this time Bill and Jenny had moved to Calder Street, Kylemore Crescent and finally Couringston Place - which remains the family home to this day - becoming parents to Alan, now a Motherwell councillor, Colin and Diane.

After retirement Bill and Jenny travelled the world meeting long-lost family members and closer to home, caravan holidays with the two youngest of their six grandchildren became an annual event for Bill.

He also became heavily involved with RMA, with Jenny becoming secretary of the branch, until four years ago, but he remained involved to the end as in his final few weeks travelled to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Dieppe raids.

Bill was also a keen Motherwell FC fan, a season ticket holder, minor shareholder and Well Society member, and saw his final game at Fir Park as ’Well faced Panathinaikos in the Champions League qualifier.

He had a ticket for last week’s Europa League qualifier against Levante, but sadly was unable to go.

Bill also had a passion for making jam and would regularly go brambling with Colin and Alan to acquire the raw materials, in later life his family knew him as a keen gardener but suspected the work was only to benefit the jam making process.

Bill’s funeral takes place at Crosshill Church in Motherwell tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10.45am, then noon at Daldowie.