THE family of a young bagpiper who was forced to abandon a live performance in Helensburgh say the talented teen has been overwhelmed by online messages of support.

Mark Morrison was playing his pipes in Colquhoun Square last Saturday morning when he was approached by police officers who had received a complaint about the noise.

The 15-year-old, who appeared on The Voice Kids just a few weeks ago, posted on social media afterwards to apologise to “anyone who was sitting in Colquhoun Square waiting for the second half of my performance”.

Hundreds of people have since commented with their backing for the youngster and mum Mhorag said the setback hasn’t dampened his musical spirits.

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She told the Advertiser: “This has certainly not deterred him from performing.

“He has been quite humbled by it and the people in Helensburgh have been absolutely amazing.”

Mhorag said Mark had been invited along to the Market in the Square to perform for the crowds that gathered on Saturday, and started singing after around 15 minutes of tunes.

After stopping for lunch, the teenager returned to his spot to find two police officers who asked if he had a busking licence.

“I was sure he didn’t need a licence but the police said he did,” Mhorag said, “so I wasn’t going to argue with them.

“The officers were nice about it but they didn’t ask us to move elsewhere – because he didn’t have a licence to perform we had to take his equipment, pack everything up and leave.

“One elderly woman who had been sitting through the rain waiting on Mark coming back after lunch said she was disappointed when he had to leave.

“The police have got a job to do and everybody has a right to complain. It’s just a pity that if they felt so strongly about it they could’ve asked the market to move him.”

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Mark, who lives in Alexandria and attends Vale of Leven Academy, has been visiting care homes during lockdown to sing and play the bagpipes for residents, while he has also raised more than £2,500 for the NHS and local charities, and donated three iPads to critical care units.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “About midday on Saturday, July 25, a complaint was received from a member of the public about the noise being made by a bagpiper in Colquhoun Square.

“Local officers attended and informed the bagpiper of the complaint and he finished his performance.

“No licences or permits are required by street performers in such circumstances but the noise must be kept at a reasonable level.

“An offence is committed by any person who fails to desist on being required to do so by a constable in uniform. No offence was committed on this occasion.

“Visitors to the town centre appear to appreciate such performances but one or two local residents are understandably less impressed when they have no choice but to listen to these performances in their nearby houses.

“A certain level of noise is to be expected in town centres. Local residents are asked to be tolerant of such performances for limited periods at reasonable times especially when they are for worthwhile and charitable causes and widely appreciated by many members of the public.”

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Responding to his post on social media, Facebook users united in support of the teen.

Patricia Currie wrote: “I’ve never met you but I have followed your great efforts to bring joy and happiness to so many people, especially in this difficult Covid time. Don’t be discouraged, keep playing and singing, you are a true inspiration to the youth of today. Bah humbug to the person who complained.”

Moira Hyatt commented: “After weeks of lockdown when many were feeling lonely, sad, scared, along comes a young lad spreading some joyful music and there’s a complaint. Let us know next time you plan to share your wonderful tunes, I’m sure there’s a crowd gathering on here who will be delighted to come along and show their gratitude! I will.”

And Gerry McGinley said: “Get a life Helensburgh bad craic.”

Mhorag said she had no hard feelings towards the person who complained and the whole family appreciated the kind messages of support.

She added: “The bagpipes are not everybody’s tune, they are loud and noisy but Mark was only playing for about 15 minutes.

“This hasn’t discouraged him at all, he’s been doing it since he was a toddler and on Sunday he was back out at a care home in Glasgow and another in Old Kilpatrick performing for residents.

“I’m doubtful whether he could come back to Helensburgh but we will see what happens.”

Argyll and Bute Council confirmed that there is no licence required to busk or perform street entertainment in Argyll and Bute. But a spokesperson added: “It is advisable you contact Police Scotland to ensure that you are not/will not be causing an obstruction.”

Failure to desist when required by a police officer may result in a summary conviction and a fine of up to £200.

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