A KILWINNING father and son duo are stepping up their preparations for the European Masters Weightlifting Championship.

Though this is no regular father and son duo, as Bill and Gavin Despard are still giving the competition their all, aged 88 and 59 respectively.

And don't be fooled, even as he appraoches his 90s, Bill has assured us he has his eyes set firmly on gold - "or I'll be walking home".

The pair are heading out to Waterford in Ireland next weekend as they look to make their claim for being the best in the continent.

And the duo head into the competition with varying levels of experience in this competition.

Saturday, May 13, will be Gavin's first time at the European Championships, having spent a bit of time away from the sport.

As for Bill, he describes weightlifting as "his life" - certainly not something you will hear from every 88-year-old.

And when he competes in his age bracket on Friday, May 12, it will be his 12th time competing at the championships.

Though, in one of the biggest bugbears of his time weightlifting, he has been runner-up in each of the last 11 occasions.

However, this year, Bill is confident that "this is the one" - as he looks to add another gold to the plethora of trophies he has earned over his career.

And this career has certainly been an extraordinary one, which has saw him overcome so many obstacles over the years.

The widower, who took up the sport aged 15, had his right breast removed when he was 16 due to cancer, before getting back to competing at 18.

While as recenlty as 2021 he had to have his hip replaced - but he won't let that hold him back.

Bill will become the oldest Scottish weightlifter to compete in this competition, but that has not saw him cut any slack.

A member of the Kilwinning Olympic Weightlifting Club - which he has run for over 20 years - fellow members of the club have told him he will be walking, and swimming, home if he does not claim gold.

And though Bill is confident he will claim that illusive gold - and add another chapter to his incredible story - in weightlifting, Bill sees an opportunity to provide the community with so much more.

Bill said: “I love doing it, I love the sport. It’s been good to me physically, it’s been great to me. It’s my life, it’s everything I know in life.

“I just feel that if I can get kids off the streets and teach them an Olympic sport, and help them get out of difficulties, that would be great."

And the great-grandfather plans to open up the Kilwinning Olympic Weightlifting Club to ensure he can do just that.

The club is now taking new members, both the boys and girls, aging from 12 and up.

Anyone interested in joining can come along to the club at West Coast Stregth and Condition in Longford Avenue from 4.30pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Alternatively, call Bill on 07414 493312.