Legendary bookie leaves £8m fortune


By Cara Sulieman

A LEGENDARY Scottish bookmaker has left over a whopping eight million pounds in his estate.

Freddie Williams started taking bets in a lowly shed in Ayrshire but by the end of his career was gambling hundreds of thousands of pounds with JP McManus at Cheltenham.

Along the way he built up a modest empire of betting shops, pitches and other business interests including a bottling plant in his hometown of Cumnock.

And he has now left a grand total of £8,244,779.80 to his daughters, Julie, 35 and Shirley, 32.

It was his willingness to take any bet, small or large from any punter that secured Freddie’s status as a legend.

A spokesman for the Williams family said: “Freddie began life in humble circumstances and this inventory is testament to his hard work and professionalism.

“His daughters are still grieving the loss of their father and are unavailable for comment.”

After a day spent working first at Ayr racecourse and then at the Shawfield dogs course that night, Freddie suffered a heart attack in his sleep.

At the time reports estimated that his empire was worth three million pounds but it is no surprise to those that know him that he accumulated a lot more.

Great success story

Jim Delahunt, an ex-jockey who used to present Scotsport before moving to Setanta Sport, knew Freddie from the track.

The two men used to meet when they were down inspecting the horses before the meet started.

Delahunt admired the way Williams went about his business.

He said: “Freddie always went to do his own homework in the stables.

“He would be round having a look at all the horses before they were saddled up so he would know what form they were in.

“Freddie was certainly a very successful bookie, but he was also very successful in his private business as well. He seemed to be able to turn his hand to anything.

“His life was a great success story.”

Delahunt thinks that his success has something to do with the amount of respect that Freddie earned from the big names in horseracing.

He said: “His legendary status was justified given the willingness he had to lay just about any bet that was offered to him.

“The rumours you here about his wagers are all true and certainly the big punters could trust him.”

But despite Freddie’s prowess on the trackside, it was his bottling plant that reaped the most financial reward.

Successful businessman

More than half his estate comes from the 50,000 shares he owned in Caledonian Bottlers in Cumnock, worth a staggering £4,550,000.

On top of this he had a further £109,539.89 in a director’s loan account in the company.

But Freddie Williams Bookmakers added a large chunk to the millionaire’s legacy with his betting shop business coming in at two million pounds.

The premises themselves in Cumnock and Auchinleck added a cool £90,000 to the total.

And the bookie owned a further £272,432 worth of trackside pitches at eleven racecourses around the country from Cheltenham to Ayr.

The business also had a hefty £830,188.06 in reserve cash in a RBS commercial bank account.

An upmarket restaurant

But Freddie’s third business wasn’t as successful, with his 50,000 shares and directors loan account in the upmarket 78 St Vincent Street restaurant deemed worthless at the time of his death.

It has since gone into liquidation and shut down.

Only five per cent of Freddie’s estate is personal property and belongings, adding up to a modest £382,520.

Included in that was his £300,000 house in Skares, Cumnock and £5,000 worth of its contents and personal effects.

Three cars – a £53,500 Mercedes SL Convertible, a Mercedes CLK 240 Avantgarde worth £10,575 and a £3,000 Citroen C3 Desire – add to the legacy.

Girlfriend’s claim

And the bookie owned his own racehorse, Donaldson, who was worth £20,000

As Freddie died before he made a will, his daughter, Julie, was named as the executor of his estate.

According to Scots law, all of Freddie’s legacy will go to his two daughters, Julie and her sister Shirley.

And although Freddie wasn’t married when he passed away, he lived with long-term girlfriend Margaret Gribben who has the right to stake a claim in the fortune under the new cohabitation laws brought in in 2006.

It is believed that she the 56-year-old has launched a claim on his fortune under these laws.


  1. We have been asked by Media House, working on behalf of the Williams family, to point out that Miss Margaret Gribben did not launch a claim on the late Freddie William’s estate.

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