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Conor's Loch Ness tale wins monster prize

By Val Sweeney

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Conor McKenna's Nessie sighting was judged to be the best
Conor McKenna's Nessie sighting was judged to be the best

AS a former Gulf War veteran, Conor McKenna often notices things which seem out of the ordinary.

His sighting of “something” inexplicable on Loch Ness as he drove along the A82 has now netted him first prize in the annual Best Nessie Sighting contest, sponsored by bookmaker William Hill and decided by Inverness Courier readers in an online vote.

The Inverness lorry driver was one of four contenders in the competition for sightings during 2015.

Although his was one of two verbal accounts, while the other two were accompanied by photographs, his encounter was reckoned by voters to be the best.

He wins £1000 cash prize plus a £100 bet to place on the winner of the William Hill Scottish Cup. The other three entrants will receive a £50 bet.

Mr McKenna, who previously served with 1st Royal Irish Regiment and saw action in the Gulf War in 2003, was delighted but surprised when told the news.

“It’s not often I am stuck for words but I am this occasion,” said the 32-year-old, who lives with his wife Eilidh and their eight-year-old daughter in Maclennan Crescent, Merkinch.

“We have a baby due in April and we are also having to get a new bed for our daughter. We have been scrimping and saving, so this has come just at the right time.”

Mr McKenna, who works for Helmsdale company EM and T Rapson, recalled his encounter on September 15 when he was on one of his regular routes north along the A82.

About a mile south of Urquhart Castle he spotted a dark-coloured 15-20ft long object in the water. “It was long enough, whatever it was, to leave a crest,” he recalled. “A wave broke on the left-hand side and I wondered if it was a log or a tree, but then it disappeared.”

As he was driving at the time Mr McKenna was unable to take a photograph.

“I don’t really know what it was except it was big enough to make me question myself, and I don’t like that,” he said.

“I didn’t discuss it at the time with my wife as she would have thought I was mad. Also, she gets annoyed because I am ex-army and always observing and spotting things which don’t seem quite right. I told two other people who just laughed and asked whether I was driving or sitting in the pub!”

Mr McKenna regularly drives along the A82 but has not spotted anything unusual since.

Eventually he registered his sighting with Gary Campbell, who keeps the official register of sightings of the Loch Ness monster.

Mr Campbell said of Mr McKenna’s entry: “What it shows is that there is a guy local to the area who drives up and down Loch Ness and sees something different.

“He is willing to stick his neck out and say he saw something but doesn’t know what it was.

“I am sure there are lots of people who see things and don’t tell anyone because they are too embarrassed.”

William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams agreed. “People are always nervous about saying they have seen something because they don’t want to be a figure of fun,” he said.

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