View Full Version : First Responders Fund Raiser

31-Mar-14, 20:35
A BEAUTIFULLY restored hand-made violin is being put up for auction by a Caithness widow as part of a fundraiser to honour two “amazing” first responders.
Helen Mackay wants to give something back to the emergency volunteers who came to help her husband, Robert, shortly before his death at their home in Davidson’s Lane, Thurso, on January 4, 2012.

The 73-year-old is also enlisting the help of the Caithness Courier to track down the responders so she can thank them personally for their endeavours that night.
The violin, which belonged to Robert, has been brought back to life in a real community effort and it is hoped the money raised from its sale can go towards buying new equipment or waterproof clothing for the responders.

Robert suffered from a lung condition and was having breathing difficulties for which he had been receiving hospital treatment in the weeks before he died at the age of 72. On the night of his death, Mrs Mackay dialled 999 and it was the first responders who arrived at her door before the ambulance. “It was a horrible night, thunder and lightning, and they came running here. They were drooked the pair of them but it was just a relief to see somebody,” Mrs Mackay recalled.

Over 1000 was raised at Robert’s funeral and the cash was split between the Fishermen’s Mission and Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland. But Mrs Mackay regrets not offering the responders a donation as well to show her appreciation.

“I don’t know who they were, I don’t even know their names. They were amazing and I’m just so mad with myself that I didn’t think about them at the time,” she said.
Following Robert’s death, Mrs Mackay uncovered the violin – which is believed to date from the 1940s – in the couple’s garden shed. She put it there 10 years earlier when they moved to the town from Lieurary, where Robert farmed.

The violin was falling apart and had been badly affected by damp but family friend Paul Newman (52) urged Mrs Mackay not to throw it away and later came up with the fundraising idea.

He kept the instrument in his barn at Murkle until last August when his neighbour, Nicholas Robinson, agreed to give it a makeover. The craftsman, who runs The Highland Workshop, spent weeks rebuilding the violin and its “coffin” case, which has since been lined with new red felt. Mr Newman said: “Nicholas did a really good job, he put a lot of work into it. It was painstaking – there were no machines, all he used were little bits of sandpaper to rub it down and there were very deep scratches on it.”

John Paul and Lorna Body, of Norscot Joinery at Bower, then got the violin lacquered and supplied a bow while Kirk artist Pete Hodgson stringed and tuned it – and had the pleasure of being the first musician to play it in around 60 years on Friday.

According to the original labelling, the violin was made in Czechoslovakia and bears the famous Stradivarius name – although it is almost certainly a copy and it is not known where it actually comes from.

Mrs Mackay said: “Robert had it when he was six years old but I don’t know if he had it new, he used to get lessons when he was at school but never played it much after that. We don’t know where it came from originally.”

Mr Newman added: “We think it’s a student violin so would be ideal for anyone out there learning. We want someone who is going to look after it, not just use it and throw it in a cupboard – or a shed!

“We’re not out to make money for ourselves – we want the largest amount we can get and every single penny we make will go to the first responders.”
If you would like to find out more about the violin, or would like to make an offer to buy it, e-mail Paul Newman at p.newman356@btinternet.com
Are you one of the first responders who came to help Robert Mackay in January 2012? Get in touch – e-mail e.mackay@nosn.co.uk

14-Apr-14, 20:08
We have had another bid tonight for the violin of 220.

24-Apr-14, 21:46
Ok folks just a quick update on the violin. Its ending on the 30th April so if you would like to place a bid on it please do so .

28-Apr-14, 21:37
Only two days left before auction finishes