Tributes paid as Lothians man dubbed ‘world’s oldest DJ’ passes away aged 96

TriBUTES have been paid to one of the world’s oldest DJs who has died aged 96.

Bill Prentice was a radio host with Black Diamond FM.
Bill Prentice was a radio host with Black Diamond FM.

Bill Prentice, who lived in Bonnyrigg, has been described as a ‘get up and go type of person who cared deeply about his community’.

William Douglas Prentice, was born on February 16, 1923.

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His partner Rosie Wilson, 81, from Portobello, said: “I always called him the ‘heart of Midlothian’ if there was anything 
going on he was usually part of it.”

Born in Haddington in 1923, the third of five children of William and Joanne Prentice.

The family later moved to Montague Street, in Edinburgh’s Southside, until 1929 when they were rehoused in one of the first Corporation houses in Craigmillar, where his youngest sister, Mary, was born.

From Portobello School, Bill entered an apprenticeship as a bookbinder at Waddies Print Works, but he was called up for war service in 1941.

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With three school friends he applied to enlist in the RAF, but marginally failed the eyesight test, so was assigned to the Fleet Air Arm.

His time during the war heavily influenced his life long connection to music. As a serviceman in America, Bill received a free pass to Broadway’s top musical theatres.

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Bill’s love of the music would pay off half a century later, when he became an award-winning volunteer presenter and producer on community-based Black Diamond Radio.

It was in his 80s, shortly after the death of his much-loved wife Nancy, that he was discovered by Bob Miller of Black Diamond Community Radio and given his own Senior Hour Sunday slot.

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Bill started his successful career in radio late and it is believed that he was the oldest music presenter in the world, his last pre-recorded show going 
out three days before he died.

In seniority of his service as a radio presenter, Bill overtook Radio 2’s Alan Keith, who died aged 94 in 2003, and Alistair Cooke, who was 95 when his last Letter from America, was broadcast.

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He was also seven months older than Nicholas Parsons, presenter of Just a Minute.

Tributes have poured in from members of Bill’s community, with people describing him as a ‘sociable’ ‘outgoing person’ and a ‘complete gentleman’.

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Bill is survived by his youngest sister, Mary, several nephews and nieces and Rosie.

Rosie, who met Mr Prentice eight and-a-half years ago when she was 70, said that being with Bill ‘changed her as a person’.

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“I miss him to bits, life is never going to be the same again, but I have a family thanks to Bill,” she said.

“I didn’t have my own family before Bill but because of him I have inherited a lovely family, I couldn’t ask to be surrounded by nicer people.”

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She added: “He was a get up and go type of person who cared deeply about his community.”

Bill’s funeral was held at Mortonhall Crematorium, Main Chapel, on July 24.