Wallace walkers turn out in force in memory of Bill

The Patterson and Cherry families enjoying the recent Bill Wilson Memorial Walk. Picture: David Cleland.
The Patterson and Cherry families enjoying the recent Bill Wilson Memorial Walk. Picture: David Cleland.

The Bill Wilson Memorial Walk took place on the May Day Bank holiday in true Duke of Edinburgh conditions, some 300 walkers gathering in Donard Park to brave the damp and misty Mournes in affectionate memory of the Wallace High School legend.

Bill served the school with distinction for almost 40 years and held a number of important roles; at the time of his illness he was Senior Teacher and Head of Mathematics but it was as leader of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme that all the many facets of his personality shone most brightly.

Generations of pupils attended Thursday afternoon preparation classes, practised their skills in the Mournes and completed expeditions in locations as diverse as the Mournes, the Wicklow hills and even the Pyrenees.

The memorial walkers, including four-footed ones and some in buggies, followed a route designed by Colin Henderson, a close friend of Bill’s.

Wallace Vice-Principal David Cleland said: “Days like this are all about teamwork. We are very grateful to Colin for all his preparation and to the members of the Mourne Expedition Panel who marshalled the route, keeping everyone safe.”

Current members of the Wallace staff involved with the scheme took charge of the registration process at Donard Park and no one arrived back too late. Bill would have been impressed!

Head Boy, Chris Robinson, said: “Coming today with other sixth-formers has been great. It has added to our farewell to Wallace that we have been able to participate in what feels like a Wallace family event.

“We know that Wallace really keeps bonds with former pupils and it is evident today. We are so pleased to have attended the walk”

Walkers included current and former staff, current and former pupils and representatives from the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme in Northern Ireland.

United in affectionate recollection of Bill, the participants raised more than £3,000, which will go towards pancreatic cancer research.

Thanks go to Ticketbud, who did not charge an administration fee.

A pictorial account of the day can be seen on the school Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/mournechallenge

The day’s total means the wider school community has now donated almost £17,000 to pancreatic cancer charities in just over six months.