Bonnyrigg’s Bill Prentice, UK’s oldest radio presenter, up for award

Black Diamond FM DJ Bill Prentice.
Black Diamond FM DJ Bill Prentice.
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An Midlothian radio presenter - the oldest in Britain - has been nominated for a national award - aged 95.

Bill Prentice spends most of his week preparing and prerecording his Sunday Seniors Hour programme on Black Diamond FM from 5-6pm.

And despite his increasing frailty Bill, whose musical interest range from the 30’s to the early 60’s, has been nominated for an award in the national Community Radio Awards.

As a testament to his hard work, Bill has made the shortlist for the Sage Person (over 60) award in the national Community Radio Awards.

The competition was whittled down from more than 360 entries from 77 stations across 18 categories.

Bill from Bonnyrigg, Midlothian, who recently gave up driving can no longer make it in the radio studio.

But this hasn’t stopped the determined pensioner as he prerecords and edits his show from home before it is picked up and delivered to the station to be played.

Inspirational Bill says he’s proud to be nominated for the special award.

He said: “I’m very happy. I would be absolutely flattered to win. I’m delighted to think that my type of music is acceptable and people enjoy it.

“My programme is for the elderly, by the elderly. The bulk of the music I play is from the 1920s to the 60s. I never use modern music.

“My type of music is definitely melodic and mostly big bands. My favourite is Diana Durban, the highest paid star in Hollywood in the 1930s.

“I have got to think in terms of the elderly people and what they like to hear.

“The number of people that speak to me in the street that like that style of music surprises me.”

Bill was born on 17 February 1923 at Haddington, East Lothian.

In 1929, he moved to Craigmillar, Edinburgh, where his family were among the first to live on the estate.

He then got employment with Waddie & Co -- an organisation that manufactures stationers and printers -- as an apprentice bookbinder.

And In 1944, Bill married the love of his life Nancy and the couple went on to have son, Richard.

The pair were married for 62 years until Nacy’s death in 2006.

Later in 1984, he moved to Bonnyrigg where he has since worked tirelessly in the voluntary sector holding various offices.

Bob Miller, chairman of Midlothian Community Media Association, the charity that runs Black Diamond FM in Midlothian says he couldn’t be any happier for Bill.

He said: “We are delighted to have been recognised among a large number of other stations doing great work across the UK.

“We are extremely proud of Bill who, at 95, continues put his programme together each week without any assistance and very much deserves this recognition.”

Gordon Clayton, a director for Black Diamond FM, added: “Bill has been so active with the community.

“His presented his show for 11 years on air. He’s a lovely man and we wish him the best.

“We really believe that his probably the oldest solo radio presenter in the UK.”

Martin Steers, awards chairman, said: “Now in their third year, the entries are getting better and better, and we’re really able to show off the diverse broadcasting that the countries stations undertake for the benefit of their communities.

“We wish Bill good luck and can’t wait to host the ceremony in Sheffield in September.”

The winner of the award will be announced on September 15 in Sheffield.

Alan Keith, who was previously Britain’s oldest radio DJ, died at the age of 94 after a short illness.

The presenter voiced Radio 2’s Your Hundred Best Tunes for 44 years.

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