TRIBUTES have been paid to a former miner and celebrated folk musician whose spoons playing finesse inspired audiences of all ages.

News of the death of Bert Draycott last week at the age of 86 has shocked and saddened the community of Fishburn, County Durham, where he lived his whole life.

But tributes for the grandfather-of-two have been flooding in from further-a-field than that. For Mr Draycott was known and loved across the country for his musical talents, triumphing at the World Spoons Championships countless times and staging workshops to encourage more people to take up the traditional instrument.

He also helped set up Sedgefield Folk Festival and was a regular performer at gigs and special events across the country.

Festival organiser Joan Edmondson described him as legend.

“I think what made Bertie so special was his warmth and the fact he was always interested in people,” she said.

“He was wonderful at giving advice, as he had been through a lot himself over the years.

“For a man in his 80s he led such a full life. As well as music, he enjoyed pottery and wood carving and was involved in the community in lots of ways.”

Mr Draycott mastered the basics of spoons playing while training as a motor mechanic in the 7th Armoured Division (REME). After completing his National Service, he went to work at Fishburn Colliery and it was there he first savoured the sweet taste of success with the instrument.

In 1973, he and his colleagues staged an impromptu contest in the compressor house, and after emerging victorious, Mr Draycott claimed the title of World Spoons Champion.

In 2001, he resurrected the contest as part of the annual folk festival.

Speaking to the Northern Echo in 2011, Mr Draycott said: “My late wife, Maureen and I went to Trimdon Folk Club in the Red Lion one week and saw a great artist. I loved the patter and the songs. The next time we went, the act was awful and I said I could do better. Up I went and the act grew, with spoons, a few jokes and a song.”

Mr Draycott’s friend, Anne Lamb, said she would always remember their trips to the Bude Folk Festival in Cornwall.

“I remember him singing one song in a false Cornish accent,” she said. “They loved him for it and awarded him with a badge of the Cornish flag, so making him an honorary Cornishman. A great honour

“Bertie, wherever you went you touched people with your warmth and humour. You will be greatly missed. No-one can take your place.”

  • Mr Draycott’s children, Gordon and Lesley, will publicise the funeral details once the arrangements are finalised.