Balloons about to go up for Billy after shinty match success
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.