Billy's lasting legacy

BILLY McAtamney loved football, but his adored wife loved animals - which is why he left £400,000 to a wildlife charity in his will.The much-loved Ipswich referee, who died in April, aged 72, after battling cancer of the pancreas, gave the massive sum to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) in memory of his wife, Mary, who died about seven years ago.

BILLY McAtamney loved football, but his adored wife loved animals - which is why he left £400,000 to a wildlife charity in his will.

The much-loved Ipswich referee, who died in April, aged 72, after battling cancer of the pancreas, gave the massive sum to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) in memory of his wife, Mary, who died about seven years ago.

In his will Mr McAtamney, or Paddy as he was known to many of his friends, said he hopes the money would be used to buy land in memory of Mary who had a passion for all animals and wildlife.

Mr McAtamney was known to many as a kind-hearted and enthusiastic football referee who always turned up for five-a-side matches.

Although friends were not surprised by his generosity, they were shocked that he had so much money to leave in his will.

Keith Norton, vice chairman of the Metaltec Suffolk and Ipswich Football League, said: “It doesn't surprise me because he was such a genial gentleman and had a good word for everybody and everything - it just sums Billy up.

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“I didn't know his background so I didn't know about the animal loving.

“And the amount of money nobody would have known. But he wouldn't have bragged and wouldn't have talked about it.”

Audrey Boyle, a spokeswoman for the SWT, said that the money Mr McAtamney, left would now be used to fulfil his wishes and buy a piece of land in his wife's memory. He had no children.

She said: “Legacies like this are really appreciated.

“Often legacies are used to buy land as they allow a concrete reminder to a loved one and are good for the environment.

“Legacies are unexpected and we don't budget for them so it is a big bonus.”

She said that Mr McAtamney had not been a member of the trust and so the SWT had no idea that he had left them his estate and added that legacies of such a large amount were rare, with the number left to the charity each year normally remaining in single figures.

Weblink: www.suffolkwildlife.co.uk

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