Teen battling chronic pain given new lease of life thanks to bagpipes

Katie Robertson, who uses a wheelchair, said that 'with piping, I feel like I’ve found my place'.

STV News

A schoolgirl battling difficult health conditions has been given a new lease of life after taking up bagpiping.

Katie Robertson, who uses a wheelchair, told STV News that “with piping, I feel like I’ve found my place”.

The 14-year-old, from Carnoustie in Angus, has suffered from arthritis from the age of four and recently had to have 11 steroid injections into her hands after the condition started flaring up.

The teen also has scoliosis, which has curved her spine in two places.

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Despite living with chronic pain, Katie has not let that get in the way of following her dreams to learn how to play the bagpipes.

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Talented: Katie took up bagpiping earlier this year.

The teen, who has been learning the chanter at school, was scheduled to undergo spinal surgery last year, but that was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to the delay, Katie became determined to use the time to learn how to play the pipes and go out busking in Dundee city centre to perform for shoppers.

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Dundee: Katie and Liam Eaton busking.

She told STV News: “I just feel so confident when I’m playing for people, it’s just such an amazing experience.

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“I honestly just can’t describe how happy it makes me feel. Every chance I get I’m out busking.

“The amount of people who stop and say such nice things about me is amazing.

“People used to look at me for being in the chair, sort of looked down at me – I’m not the same as them.

“All the folks in my class, they can be a bit mean sometimes and not very understanding.

“Whereas now when I’m busking, people look at me for a different reason. They look at me because I’m playing the bagpipes.”

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Pipe sergeant: Liam Eaton helped Katie find her first set of pipes.

Katie only got her first set of pipes in May after a chance encounter with Liam Eaton, a pipe sergeant with Dundee City Pipe Band.

Last week, she cemented her place as part of the all-inclusive band by leading the musicians down Dundee’s Reform Street.

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Mr Eaton, who helped Katie find her first set of pipes, has been giving her lessons as well as accompanying her on busking performances.

He also encouraged her to take part in her first National Mod, where she placed first and second in the two events she entered in.

He said: “Katie has such a natural talent for [playing bagpipes] but her skill level is only part of it. The enthusiasm she has for the pipes is unbelievable.

“I’ve never seen this level of dedication to the pipes – I was never this enthusiastic and I love the pipes.

“I’ve actually had to ask her to practice less because bagpipes are quite fickle and if they get too wet they can break.”

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Proud: Jane Robertson, Katie’s mum.

The teenager’s mum said she’s seen a massive difference in her daughter since she took up the bagpipes.

Jane Robertson said: “The confidence it’s giving Katie is amazing.

“For me to look at her and know what she’s going through daily with her pain and the struggles she has – to do this is more than what she would have ever imagined. 

“Bagpipes have become her focus. She wakes up thinking about pipes, she pipes during the day and the last thing she does before bed is pipe.

“Katie is more confident and more proud of herself of achieving this because there are so many things Katie couldn’t do that other kids the same age could.

“She now has excelled in something and people are looking at her for the right reason.

“Katie used to be bothered by people looking at her because she’s been in the chair for a few years, and she would say to me ‘why are people looking at me’ and I would say ‘because you’re beautiful’.

“The people were looking at her and she used to just shrug it off, but now people are looking at her because she’s doing something unusual.

“She’s a wee girl, a young lady piping and she’s so proud of it and she’s changing people’s perceptions and that is amazing and makes me so proud.”

Katie’s surgery has been rescheduled for as early as next week.

Her ambition is to take her pipes to hospital and play them for the doctors and nurses that look after her.

Her recovery could take anywhere between six weeks to six months, meaning she won’t be able to pipe, but she has saved up her busking money and bought herself a digital set of pipes so she can keep practicing without having to use her lungs.

As Katie says, “nothing’s going to stop me piping”.

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Britney Spears ‘disgusted’ by conservatorship system

Pop superstar shares apprehension at the prospect of finally taking back control of her life.

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Britney Spears is on the cusp of regaining charge of her affairs.

Britney Spears said she is “disgusted” by the system that has allowed her life and career to be taken out of her control for 13 years.

The pop superstar, 39, also admitted to being “fearful of doing something wrong” if her controversial conservatorship is terminated and said “Lord have mercy on my family’s souls” if she ever gives an interview.

Spears is on the cusp of regaining charge of her affairs for the first time since a court deemed her unfit in 2008 after she suffered a series of mental breakdowns.

The conservatorship – a complex legal arrangement usually reserved for the very old or sick – could be brought to an end before the turn of the year.

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In a lengthy Instagram post, Spears shared her apprehension at the prospect of finally taking back control of her life.

She said: “I’ll just be honest and say I’ve waited so long to be free from the situation I’m in … and now that it’s here I’m scared to do anything because I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake !!!

“For so many years I was always told if I succeeded at things, it could end … and it never did !!! I worked so hard but now that it’s here and getting closer and closer to ending I’m very happy but there’s a lot of things that scare me !!!”

Spears accused the paparazzi of “creepy” behaviour and chasing her while she is driving near a school.

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She wrote: “I don’t like that they try to scare me and jump out like they do … it’s like they want me to do something crazy !!!

“So like I said I’m fearful of doing something wrong … so I won’t be posting as much in a world where it’s our liberty to be free, it’s a shame !!! I started experiencing that when I got the keys to my car for the first time 4 months ago and it’s been 13 years !!!!”

And Spears told of her loathing for the California legal system that has allowed her to be placed under a conservatorship for so long.

She said: “I haven’t done anything to be treated the way I have for the past 13 years !!! I’m disgusted with the system and wish I lived in another country !!!”

Spears also returned to the feud with her family, who she has previously accused of not doing enough to help her.

She has a contentious relationship with father Jamie, the man who had her placed under the conservatorship and who ran her life for more than a decade.

He was ousted from his role overseeing his daughter’s money in September after Spears pleaded with the judge in the case.

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The singer, who shared a picture of a Christmas tree alongside her post, said: “I’m celebrating Christmas way early this year … because why not ???!!! I believe any reason to find more joy in life is a good idea … and it’s no secret that I’ve been through it in the past … so I might have to do things a little differently from now on !!!

“Lord have mercy on my family’s souls if I ever do an interview !!! In the meantime …

“I’m staying clear of the business which is all I’ve ever known my whole life … which is why this is so very confusing for me !!! Anyway … God bless you all !!!”

Spears, who has not performed since 2018, remains one of the biggest draws in pop music.

The next hearing in her conservatorship is scheduled for November.


Missing mother and son found safe after police search

Officers had become increasingly concerned for their welfare.

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Police have located missing mother and son.

A mother and son who were missing in the Highlands have been found safe and well after a police search.

Concerned officers appealed for help to find Linda Newlands, 30, and her 10-year-old son.

The pair were last seen in Dingwall on Wednesday at approximately 7.40pm, with police suggesting they may have travelled to Edinburgh.

On Saturday morning, Police Scotland announced that the pair had been located.

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A statement from the force said: “Thank you to everyone who shared and responded to our appeal.”

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Guest actors revealed for upcoming Doctor Who series

The series will begin later this month.

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Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop and Jacob Anderson will return to the show for the 13th series.

Robert Bathurst, Thaddea Graham and Blake Harrison are among the guest actors who will be appearing in the upcoming series of Doctor Who.

They will be joining regular stars Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop and Jacob Anderson in the show for the 13th series, titled Doctor Who: Flux.

The series will begin later this month on BBC One.

Toast Of London star Bathurst, The Irregulars star Graham and The Inbetweeners actor Harrison will be joined by Downton Abbey’s Kevin McNally and Line Of Duty star Craig Parkinson in the new series.

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Unforgotten actress Sara Powell, The Split’s Annabel Scholey, Cold Feet actor Gerald Kyd and The Crown’s Penelope McGhie will also feature.

Executive producer Matt Strevens said: “I can’t wait for the audience to come on the Flux ride with us.

“It’s our biggest adventure yet with so many brilliant characters to fall in love with.

“We had a blast making it.”

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Whittaker, who has played the Time Lord since 2017, said in July she will be leaving the sci-fi drama.

She will feature in the upcoming series before exiting the BBC show in a trio of specials next year.

The first special will air on New Year’s Day 2022, the second will be later in the spring and the third, when the Doctor will regenerate, will air in autumn 2022 and will form part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations.

The new series of Doctor Who begins on October 31.


Several major tourist attractions to be closed during COP26

Glasgow Life say six sites will be closed to 'minimise disruption' during UN climate change conference.

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Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum will be closed during COP26.

Several major tourist attractions in Glasgow will close during the UN climate summit being hosted on the banks of the Clyde.

Glasgow Life, which runs the city’s culture and leisure venues, announced six sites would be closed to “minimise disruption” during COP26.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Riverside Transport Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art will be closed throughout the conference.

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The Gallery of Modern Art

A statement from the organisation said COP26 would have an “inevitable” impact on operations in the city.

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But across the venues that have reopened since the easing of coronavirus restrictions, Glasgow Life said it hoped to “operate business as usual as far as possible”.

Glasgow Life, which runs the venues on behalf of the city council, said it had lost £38m due to the closure of venues during the pandemic.

Hundreds of jobs are to be cut at the organisation which runs libraries and sports centres, due to its struggling finances.

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Riverside Museum

Glasgow is set to see “extreme” traffic disruption as a large area of the city centre is to be locked down during the United Nations climate summit.

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COP26 is being hosted by the River Clyde at the Scottish Exhibition Centre and routes around the area will be closed on the lead-up to the conference as well as during, between October 31 and November 12, and afterwards.

As well as pressure from road users, up to 100,000 people are expected to take part in an activist march on November 6, with other “unofficial fringe activity” possible throughout the twelve days.

The Riverside Museum will be closed from Saturday, October 23, until Tuesday, November 16, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum’s doors will be shut from October 28 to November 14, and the Gallery of Modern Art in the city centre will close on October 31 not to reopen until November 14.

Kelvin Hall will be closed from October 28 to November 1 and the Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls and Tennis Centre will also be shut from October 31 to November 2.

The People’s Palace, which is closed for “essential maintenance”, will remain shut to the public.

The Emirates Arena will remain open throughout but may be busier than usual as certain areas will be supporting the delivery of COP26.

Glasgow Life said all the dates were subject to change as citing requirements for the climate summit and the major security operation surrounding the event.


New digital system could resolve criminal cases ‘quicker’

The Scottish Government has issued a contract worth £10m to pilot an evidence sharing system.

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The new system will be piloted in spring 2022.

An evidence sharing system is to be piloted next year which will resolve criminal cases quicker and lead to potentially fewer trials, according to the Scottish Government.

Axon Public Safety UK Ltd has been contracted by the Scottish Government to deliver the Digital Evidence Sharing Capability service (DESC).

The contract, worth £10m, will see the new system piloted in spring 2022.

It will change how evidence is collected, managed and shared – allowing police officers, prosecutors, court staff and defence agents to access evidence digitally.

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The Scottish Government said it will reduce costs involved in managing and transporting evidence such as CCTV footage, video interviews and physical forensic images.

It said the system will lead to quicker resolution of cases and potentially fewer trials as a result of earlier consideration and disclosure of evidence through the system.

Justice secretary Keith Brown said: “This is an important step in improving the experience of victims and witnesses in the criminal justice process.

“It will make a real difference to the time taken for cases to come to court, allowing those involved in criminal cases to move on with their lives sooner.

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“Earlier resolution of cases is just one of the benefits this programme will bring.”

Andrew Laing is leading the project for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

He said: “Sharing of evidence has become more complicated in recent years as digital information is often held in a myriad of formats.

“The DESC service will allow COPFS to more easily access evidence gathered by the police and share it with the accused and their defence quicker and more efficiently.

“COPFS is committed to working with all partners to ensure the new system provides benefits for all and improves our service to the public.”

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service chief executive Eric McQueen said: “This will facilitate faster resolution of cases through early disclosure of evidence, while streamlining evidence presentation in courts by moving away from multiple formats and manual handling of evidence.”

Police Scotland assistant chief constable Kenny MacDonald said the new system will “provides each criminal justice partner with a secure shared platform to store and access digital evidence before the start of a trial”.

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He added: “We believe this will encourage earlier resolution of cases and reduce the re­-traumatising of victims and witnesses when attending court.

“Early resolution will also mean less policing hours lost to court commitments allowing officers to continue serving the public on the frontline.

“DESC presents an opportunity to modernise our processes by removing the need for digital evidence to be duplicated and shared in hard copy format as well as providing the opportunity for a greater range of evidence to be presented in a digital format.”

The Scottish Government said digital evidence in the system will only be accessible by approved personnel, such as police officers, fiscal staff and defence agents and that access to information will be “fully audited and monitored”.


Fatal stabbing of MP Sir David Amess declared terrorist incident

The 69-year-old was fatally injured while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Essex.

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Sir David Amess MP was fatally stabbed as he held a surgery in his Southend West constituency.

The fatal stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess has been declared a terrorist incident, the Metropolitan Police has confirmed.

The 69-year-old, who had been an MP since 1983, was fatally injured while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea near Southend at midday on Friday.

In a statement, the Met said Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, had formally declared the incident as terrorism.

The investigation is being led by counter-terrorism officers.

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The early investigation has revealed “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”, the force said.

A 25-year-old man arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder is in custody at an Essex police station.

Official sources told the PA news agency the man is believed to be a British national with Somali heritage.

As part of the investigation, officers were also carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area, the Met said.

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The force believe the man acted alone and are not seeking anyone else in connection with the matter at this time, but inquiries into the circumstances of the incident are continuing.

According to reports, the knifeman was waiting among a group of people to see Sir David at the church and launched the attack shortly after the MP arrived.

Local councillor John Lamb, who arrived at the scene shortly after the incident, told the Daily Mail Sir David was with two female members of staff – one from his constituency office and one from his parliamentary office – when a man “literally got a knife out and just began stabbing him”.

Home secretary Priti Patel has asked all police forces to review security arrangements for MPs “with immediate effect” following the attack.

Chief constable of Essex Police Ben-Julian Harrington said 69-year-old Southend West MP Sir David was “simply dispensing his duties when his life was horrifically cut short”.

Tory veteran Sir David, who was described by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”, had been an MP since 1983 and was married with five children.

Patel met police and representatives of the security and intelligence agencies after the stabbing, which took place as Sir David held a surgery in his Southend West constituency.

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“The Home Secretary has asked all police forces to review security arrangements for MPs with immediate effect and will provide updates in due course,” the spokesman for Patel said.

The Daily Telegraph said the review would examine Operation Bridger, a nationwide police protective security operation established in 2016 after several threats to MPs following Parliamentary debates on Syria.

Patel will make a statement to Parliament on the review on Monday, The Times reported.

The attack on Sir David came just five-and-a-half years after Labour MP Jo Cox was killed by a far right extremist in her Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire.

The Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said police were contacting all MPs to check on their security in the wake of Sir David’s killing.

“It is about doing the right things working with the police constabularies right across the United Kingdom because it is about joining that up,” Sir Lindsay told BBC2’s Newsnight.

“I know that they are contacting all the MPs to check about their safety, to reassure them, because in the end we have got to make sure that is a priority.”

He added: “Those people who do not share our values or share democracy, they will not win and we won’t let them win. We will continue to look at security, that is ongoing and it will continue.”

Sir Lindsay said earlier that while it was right that security was reviewed following the latest incident, it was important to avoid “knee-jerk” reactions.

He told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “What we want to do is make sure MPs can carry out their duties. We have got to make sure MPs are safe.”

His sentiments were echoed by the the Father of the House – the longest-serving sitting MP – Sir Peter Bottomley.

“I predict all over the country this weekend, next weekend and in the months to come, MPs will hold advice sessions. That is what we do,” he told the PA news agency.

“There is no perfect security for anybody. My view has always been that in many other walks of life you are at far greater risk than a Member of Parliament.

“MPs may get exceptional publicity. We are not exceptional people. We’re ordinary people trying to do an ordinary job as well as we can. We accept the risks.

“The question is – should MPs stop meeting their constituents face-to-face? The answer is we will go on meeting our constituents face-to-face.”


Mother and son missing as fears for their welfare grow

Linda Newlands and Andrew Baird may have travelled to Edinburgh, police said.

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Linda Newlands, 30, and her 10-year-old son Andrew Baird were last seen in the Dingwall area on Wednesday evening.

A search has been launched for a mother and son who have been reported missing in the Highlands.

Linda Newlands, 30, and her 10-year-old son Andrew Baird were last seen in the Dingwall area at around 7.40pm on Wednesday.

Police described Ms Newlands as 5ft 2in in height, with a stocky build and long red hair.

She was last seen wearing red glasses, green trousers, a long black coat and trainers.

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Her son Andrew was described by officers as 5ft with a stocky build and dark brown hair.

He is said to have been wearing a black hoody, black tracksuit bottoms and black trainers.

Police said the pair are believed to still be in the Highlands, but may have travelled to Edinburgh.

Officers said that they are becoming increasingly concerned for their welfare as time passes.

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Sergeant Rhys Reid said: “We are appealing for anyone with information on Linda and Andrew’s whereabouts to come forward and contact police as soon as they can.

“If you believe you have seen them, or know where they are, please call 101, quoting incident 3596 of October 14.”


‘Guide Dogs gave me my life back’: Charity celebrates 90th birthday

At 23-years-old, Scott Cunningham thought his life was over until he met his first guide dog.

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In the space of three weeks in 1993, Scott Cunningham lost his sight.

The 23-year-old lay in pain in a bed at what was then the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

“My optic nerves had died away suddenly due to this condition that I’ve got,” he told STV News.

“Basically, my world had caved in because there was no future. There was no real reason to continue on with life, to be fair.

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Then and now – development of services showing My Sighted Guide.
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“You know, I had a car in the driveway I had a job, I had everything to live for and then all of sudden I had to try and accept being a member of the blind community.”

Now 51-years-old, Mr Cunningham remembered how he struggled to come to terms with the loss of his sight.

He was living like a “hermit”, too scared to leave his home and drinking heavily to deal with how he felt.

But in 1995 something changed.

“I started building up trust, confidence in this amazing creature who became my best friend.”

Scott Cunningham
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One of only two Guide Dogs charity centres in the country was ten minutes from his parents’ home and he had been invited to come and train with them.

“I remember vividly the first walk, with the harness on, Debbie the trainer let go of her lead, my right arm went out rigid, I was beyond petrified”, he said.

“I grew a bit of a backbone, and I started building up trust, confidence in this amazing creature who became my best friend, gave me the confidence, gave me the mobility, gave me my independence back.

“I was able to go to shops, be able to go to pubs, restaurants myself, be able to get fit again, lose that massive amount of weight I’d put on.”

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Then and now – road crossing

Thanks to his first guide dog Ike, Mr Cunningham was able to go back to full-time education and he completed an HND course.

He went on to return to employment and said it was all thanks to Guide Dogs.

Mr Cunningham has just completed a twelve marathon challenge and to date has raised more than £350,000 for the charity.

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The organisation began 90 years ago, initially helping soldiers blinded in the first world war.

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Historical shot of guide dog training

Now in the 21st Century, roads are a lot busier but the basic principles remain.

With new services, new technologies, staff, dogs, and supporters, Guide Dogs plans to double the number of people it helps by 2023.

As the charity marks its birthday, it is asking for the public’s support to help people with sight loss live the lives they choose by joining its Guide Dogs 90 Appeal.

For more information click here.


Manhunt after takeaway delivery driver ‘threatened with knife’

The victim was sitting in a car when the suspect leaned into the window on Thursday evening.

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The takeaway driver was sitting in his black Ford Focus on Magdalen Way, in Paisley.

A hunt is underway after a man allegedly demanded a delivery driver hand over cash while brandishing a knife.

The takeaway driver was sitting in his black Ford Focus on Magdalen Way, in Paisley, at around 6.30pm on Thursday when the suspect leant into the car window.

The man allegedly threatened the victim with a knife and demanded money from him.

Police said it had been a “frightening experience for a man who was simply doing his job”.

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No cash was taken and the suspect ran off.

He is described as a white man with a local accent, of slim build, with his face sunken around his eyes and he may have had some facial hair.

He was wearing a navy blue jacket with the hood up and dark coloured trousers.

Detective constable James Campbell, of Paisley CID, said: “Thankfully no-one was injured as a result of this but it was a frightening experience for a man who was simply doing his job.

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“I’m appealing to anyone who may have witnessed this incident or has any relevant information to contact us.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 quoting incident 2738 of October 14 Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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