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Tain baker Willie Mackenzie retires after 51 years

By Niall Harkiss

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Willie Mackenzie of Grants Bakery in Tain has retired after 51 years in the trade.
Willie Mackenzie of Grants Bakery in Tain has retired after 51 years in the trade.

Tain baker Willie Mackenzie has decided to hang up his rolling pin after 51 years in the trade.

There will not be many residents of Tain and the surrounding area who haven't sampled a roll, pie or other baked goods made by Willie, who had his longest spell in the trade working for Grants Bakery.

For Willie, baking had been in the genes for many years, beginning in his native Stornoway.

"I come from a long line of bakers, starting with my great great grandmother who was with 'Johnny Oag' Bayhead in Stornoway. When I started work in 1970, my father and his partner had a business on Stag Road, named 'The Stag' and I worked there for seven years before I came to the Highlands."

His move took him to Burnett Bakers in Inverness where he spent ten years before heading north to Brora, eventually arriving in Tain in 1990.

"I went to work for Jimmy Patience in Strachan's Bakery and I was there until it closed in 1995. That was when I went to work for Bill and Mary Grant in W M Grants before it was bought by Ian Laslett in 2006. I have worked in the same building for 26 years, 9 months and 29 days."

Tain based Grants Bakery wished Willie well on his retirement in a statement on their Facebook page, which read: "It has been a pleasure to work with Willie. His many friends, colleagues and shop customers would like to wish him only the best for the future as he retires today following a lifetime of early starts, making pies and many, many treats for us all over the years. No one is more deserving of a long, happy and relaxing daily snooze!"

When asked if he would miss anything about the job, Willie said: "No, I won't miss anything – who wouldn't miss a 3am alarm? But I will miss the lovely people I have worked with over the time. I have lovely memories."

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