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Willie set for his 200th Saturday night Tunes on the Spoons

By Alan Hendry

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Willie Mackay's musical accompaniments have delighted his social media followers at home and abroad.
Willie Mackay's musical accompaniments have delighted his social media followers at home and abroad.

Willie Mackay is set for another spoon-playing milestone as he continues to serve up a weekly helping of musical entertainment for his many fans around the world.

This weekend will see Willie's 200th Saturday night Tunes on the Spoons – three years and 10 months after he began the upbeat sessions as a tribute to frontline NHS staff during the pandemic.

His performances on social media platforms continue to be popular at home and abroad.

Originally from Embo, Willie (75) came to Caithness in 1970 to join the AI Cattle Breeding Service. He is an independent Highland councillor for Wick and East Caithness.

Spoons on the Tunes began in May 2020 when Willie used soup spoons purchased in a Thurso charity shop for 20p to record a Facebook video lasting one minute and 45 seconds. Since then his musical accompaniments have delighted his followers at home and abroad, with listeners in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Willie explained that it was his wife Glynis who suggested getting the spoons out and tapping away to Scottish tunes outside their cottage at Oldhall, Watten.

"Glynis does the filming and she is also my producer, director and editor as well as being in charge of lighting, script and wardrobe," he said.

"Usually we record on a Saturday afternoon outside in the summer months and inside by a cosy fire in the winter, and post up a three to four-minute session around 7pm that night.

"I get lots of birthday and anniversary messages from spoons supporters every week.

"It is my intention to keep going as long as we can. I never thought four years ago I would be celebrating the 200th Saturday night Tunes on the Spoons, but here we are."

Willie learned to play the spoons in 1968 when working at Craibstone agricultural college, Aberdeen. In those days the spoons were often played at bothy nights around Aberdeenshire.

He explained: "I have been at most of the care homes in Caithness and take spare spoons with me for the residents to have a go. That's something I really enjoy, and they always ask me when I'm coming back."

Known to all as "AI Willie", he is still managing the AI Cattle Breeding Service for farmers and crofters in Caithness and north and east Sutherland.

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