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Morale-boosting bagpiper vows to play by the rules

Harley Balmer-Howieson was filmed walking the streets of Bishop Auckland trying to lift people’s spirits with traditional songs on the pipes.

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Harley Balmer-Howieson was filmed playing the pipes in Bishop Auckland, County Durham (Handout/PA)

Harley Balmer-Howieson was filmed playing the pipes in Bishop Auckland, County Durham (Handout/PA)

Harley Balmer-Howieson was filmed playing the pipes in Bishop Auckland, County Durham (Handout/PA)

A man who has been playing the bagpipes in the street to cheer up people living in isolation due to the coronavirus outbreak has said he will carry on if he is allowed to do so.

Harley Balmer-Howieson, 27, was filmed playing the pipes in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, over the weekend in a bid to keep up people’s morale.

But since the rules on going out during the crisis were tightened, he has stopped.

The HR administrator set up a Facebook group to help people in the surrounding area deal with the outbreak, and before the latest rules were introduced someone suggested singing traditional songs like Keep The Home Fires Burning and It’s A Long Way To Tipperary.

Mr Balmer-Howieson, who learned the bagpipes after joining a pipe band seven years ago, said: “I thought, I play those on the bagpipes, and I can go round the streets and cheer some people up.”

He admitted not everyone likes the bagpipes, saying: “It is the Marmite of instruments, but it has been well-received by a lot of people.”

But after the latest advice was issued to stay at home, he has stopped going out for now.

He said: “I need to get some proper advice, I could class this as my exercise, but I don’t want to be breaking the rules.”

PA