Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WO to 80360, or email us
Former BBC journalist Bill Hamilton speaks to pensioners at Stanborough Park Seventh-day Adventist Church
Former veteran BBC news broadcaster Bill Hamilton entertained Garston pensioners on Monday afternoon with an eye-opening and affectionate account of his lifetime in journalism.
Born in Dundee, Scotland, Bill began work as a trainee reporter on the Fife Herald before moving to the Hartlepool Mail and then to Tyne Tees Television.
His career with BBC television news began in Glasgow before moving to London where he spent time as a Home Affairs correspondent and later as a Foreign Affairs correspondent, featuring regularly on national news bulletins.
During his time in television news he was first on the scene in a dramatic rescue of a train stranded in a Scottish snow drift, was yards away from the IRA bomb that killed MP Airey Neave at the House of Commons, covered riots in Toxteth and Brixton, IRA bombings in London and Brighton, the war in Lebanon and interviewed kings, heads of state and Mother Theresa.
He told his enthralled audience that part of a journalist’s job is to act as a "voice for the voiceless" and, as the first TV journalist to enter Stalinist Albania, he was able to witness the suffering in its orphanages at first hand.
His exclusive reports from Albania sparked a huge international aid effort, involving the late Norman Wisdom and the Duchess of York, winning him the "Order of Mother Theresa" the country’s highest civilian award.
During this time he became involved with ADRA-UK, the disaster and relief agency run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which has its headquarters in Garston, not too far distant from his own Hertfordshire home.
He pointed out that, as a result of his charity work with that organisation, he had been present in the hall where everyone was assembled on many previous occasions. He recorded his experiences in a book, "Albania: Who Cares?" in 1992 and published by Autumn House which is owned by the Seventh-day Adventist church.
Known primarily as a journalist, Bill’s lesser-known side is as an FA football referee.
Having qualified as a referee at the tender age of 14, then the youngest ever, he has taken charge of more than 2,000 matches in a career spanning more than half a century.
He has refereed matches both at home and abroad, including two celebrity matches at Wembley, a role he continues to this day with no intention of retiring in the near future.
He estimates that over the years he must have covered the distance to Australia running up and down pitches football pitches.
It was this achievement that led to spending some of his time as a reporter working as a Sports Editor and preceding James Alexander Gordon as the voice of BBC Television’s Saturday football match results.
Having frequently been described in news bulletins as "our man on the spot", Bill recorded his experiences gleaned during more than 50 years in journalism and refereeing in his autobiography entitled "Man on the Spot" which he wrote in 2010.
His talk was an abbreviated version of this and was much appreciated by his audience: members of the Seniors’ Club at Stanborough Park Seventh-day Adventist Church in Garston.
The club has been running for many years and caters for over 60’s, two-thirds of whom are from the local community and the rest are church members. Copies of his autobiography were available and were signed during the interval for purchasers.