Sydney Devine started his career as a schoolboy whistler in Carluke

Lanarkshire entertainer Sydney Devine entertained millions around the world during his long career, but following his death at the weekend it has been revealed his first ever paid gig took place in Carluke when he was just a schoolboy.

Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 11:19 am
Sydney Devine died on Saturday at the age of 81

At the age of 12, Sydney was hired by Annie Muir as a whistler for her concert parties, with his first performance taking place as part of a dinner held in the Welfare Hall.

For his rendition of In a Monastery Garden he was paid the sum of one gunea, and while would become best known for the song Tiny Bubbles, the Albert Ketèlbey piece would remain part of his live act throughout the decades.

Sharing a stage with Syndey that night was then 17-year-old Eleanor McGregor (nee Thornton). After perfoming in many concert parties together, two years later the duo would also have the opportunity to tour with Jimmy Shand and Robert Wilson.

Eleanor said: “I’m not sure how many people will be aware that Mrs Muir gave Sydney his start the business.

“I can still remember one night him asking if he could maybe sing a song and Mrs Muir responding “Sydney, I have enough singers, I hired you to whistle”.

"Obviously when someone is 12 you never know what they’ll go onto achieve, but he had a real determination about him, even at that age, and two years later when we were touring it was obvious that he really wanted to make a career out of entertaining.

"It is amazing to think that young boy went onto sell millions of records, was awarded an MBE, met the Queen and became a virtual hosuehold name in Scotland, and none of it might have happened if Mrs Muir hadn’t hired him to whistle.”

Sydney remained in touch with those who were there at the formative stages of his career, attending Mrs Muir’s golden wedding anniversary and sending Eleanor a Christmas card every year.

He had been booked to appear at Lanark Memorial Hall in March, but the gig was pushed back a year due to Covid-19.

Eleanor said: “I saw Sydney perform many times over the years and I was looking forward to seeing him maybe one last time in Lanark, but sadly it wasn’t to be, and my thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”