Willie grew up in Strathmiglo, Fife and from an early age he learned the importance of public service.
His father ran the local shop and village hall and was a session clerk for more than three decades.
His mother was secretary of the community association, helped with meals on wheels and wrote the village newsletter.
He lived above the shop at the centre of a vibrant village in Fife and enjoyed the best of village life, the harvest thanksgiving, flower show, highland games, Sunday school and a lot more - and it was there that his strong liberal values were formed.
Willie attended the local village school, went to high school in Cupar and got his degree in biology from Paisley College.
After graduating, Willie moved to Cornwall to work for the Liberal Democrats and honed the campaigning skills that would serve him well later in life.
Willie returned to Scotland in 1999 and worked for a small communications firm for five years before winning the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election in 2006 in a stunning upset.
Willie won the contest on a 16% swing from the Labour party in what media reports described as a “bombshell result”.
Willie represented Dunfermline until the 2010 general election, championing improvements to cancer services at local hospitals and changing the law to protect female learner drivers from sex offenders.
Willie was widely recognised as a hard-working MP, he stood up for local workers and helped protect jobs at Longannet power station and Rosyth shipyard.
In 2011, Wille was selected by party members to top the Regional List for Mid-Scotland and Fife at the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections.
After his election to the Scottish Parliament in 2011, Willie became leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
Under his leadership, the Scottish Liberal Democrat team at Holyrood delivered new funding for colleges, extra help for families with the cost of childcare and held the SNP Government's feet to the fire over local court closures, police centralisation and the state of the Scottish NHS.
In 2021 he stepped down as leader and became the party's spokesperson for Education, the Economy & Communities
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