Bal­loons about to go up for Billy af­ter shinty match suc­cess

The Oban Times - - News -

THE group cam­paign­ing to free Con­nel man Billy Irv­ing from an In­dian jail are ap­peal­ing to sup­port­ers to re­lease bal­loons on July 7, to mark the 1000th day since he was ar­rested and held in In­dia be­side five other for­mer Bri­tish sol­diers.

Billy’s fam­ily and friends an­nounced on their cam­paign Face­book page Bring Billy Back: ‘To mark this we want as many peo­ple from around the world to set Free a Bal­loon to rep­re­sent set­ting Billy and the men free. All I ask is you take a pic­ture or video of you, your friends, col­leagues, fam­ily do­ing this and up­load to so­cial me­dia with the hash­tag #freeourvet­er­ans.’

Three years ago, on July 7, 2013, Billy’s boat pro­tect­ing mer­chant sea­men, the MV Sea­man Guard Ohio, strayed into In­dian ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters car­ry­ing weapons with­out per­mis­sion.

On Jan­uary 11, 2016, a court in Tamil Nadu, found the six men guilty of bor­der and weapons vi­o­la­tions, and sen­tenced them to five years. hard labour.

To raise cash for Billy’s le­gal fees, and help bring him home, his for­mer team­mates at Taynuilt Shinty Club hosted char­ity match be­tween a Taynuilt and Kil­mory se­lect team, and an All Stars team from eight clubs, last Sun­day at Taynuilt’s sports field.

Or­gan­iser David Thom­son, of Taynuilt Shinty Club, thanked all the play­ers and spec­ta­tors for help­ing to raise more than £1,500. The All Stars beat Taynuilt and Kil­mory 4-2, and Billy’s brother Colin scored the first goal.

‘I’ve got too many to thank,’ Mr Thom­son said. ‘It was a re­ally good match: you had the youth and ex­u­ber­ance of Taynuilt against the ex­pe­ri­ence of the All Stars.’

Billy’s fi­ancée Yvonne MacHugh, who pre­sented 25 raf­fle do­na­tions to prize-win­ners, was ex­tremely grate­ful to ev­ery­one. Yvonne said: ‘We can’t thank ev­ery­one who stood in the pour­ing rain to sup­port Billy’s ben­e­fit match: to all the or­gan­is­ers, to Taynuilt shinty team, to the All Stars, to ev­ery­one who baked, made tea or cof­fee, helped set up, helped clear the place, who do­nated prizes, thank you.

‘I can­not wait to send all the pic­ture to Billy and tell him all about it when I see him in a few weeks. You have no idea how much to­day meant to us all. You’re all in­cred­i­ble. I hope one day the three of us are back in Argyll.’

The Shinty All Stars and Taynuilt/Kil­mory Se­lect pose with Yvonne MacHugh, Billy’s fi­ancée, and their son Wil­liam, at the match to raise funds for Billy’s plight.

The Shinty All Stars who took part in the Billy Irv­ing ben­e­fit match with Yvonne MacHugh and the cou­ple’s son Wil­liam ahead of the old guns com­ing out on top by win­ning 4-2 at Taynuilt.

Shinty Al­ls­tar Vic­tor Smith with Bruce John­stone of the Taynuilt se­lect.

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