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Piano James hits the wrong note with police and quits charity walk at Wick


By David G Scott

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A charity bid by a man attempting to pull a piano from John O'Groats to Land's End came to a grinding halt at Wick after warnings from police.

James Tofalli, aka Piano James, was on a mission to bring music into the lives of people suffering from mental health issues as a way of helping heal their pain.

James Tofalli, aka Piano James, pictured in the Freswick area shortly after starting his charity challenge to pull a piano from John O'Groats to Land's End. Pictures: DGS
James Tofalli, aka Piano James, pictured in the Freswick area shortly after starting his charity challenge to pull a piano from John O'Groats to Land's End. Pictures: DGS

In an emotional video he posted to his Facebook page last Thursday, James pleaded for a lift south from his pitch on the outskirts of Wick. Later that day, he posted an update showing him at Inverness, after he managed to get driven there, and then got another lift to an undisclosed location further south where he is currently isolating at a friend's property.

"It's postponed and I'll be back when the restrictions are lifted," said James, adding that he had to call it a day after being questioned by police on several occasions after leaving John O'Groats on Sunday, March 14.

James says he will return to finish his journey when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
James says he will return to finish his journey when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Despite a few people complaining to the police about his alleged breach of Covid travel restrictions, James said he was delighted with the support he had from locals.

"I want to put out a great big 'thank you' to the people of Caithness and let them know I'll be back to finish the journey when the time is right. I'm really grateful that someone is looking after my piano just now in Wick. When I get going again, I'll take a different route south to avoid the A9 and hopefully give the police some peace of mind."

Last Thursday, he said that police threatened him with arrest if he intended to continue the journey. "As an ex-addict I got offered a homeless shelter, that might not have been able to accommodate me which would mean being remanded in custody."

A Police Scotland spokesperson confirmed that James had been spoken to by officers and given "advice and assistance".

They added: "On a number occasions between Saturday 13 March and Wednesday, 17 March, 2021, members of the public reported to police their concerns about a man breaching Covid regulations between John O'Groats and Wick.

James broke down in the last video he posted as he told his followers of his need to quit the charity trek. Picture: DGS
James broke down in the last video he posted as he told his followers of his need to quit the charity trek. Picture: DGS

"Officers initially spoke to the man and advice and assistance was given. However, a fixed penalty was issued on the second occasion following a subsequent breach."

The spokesperson said that officers will continue to use their "common sense and discretion" while encouraging people to take personal responsibility and follow the regulations.

However, where officers encounter wilful breaches they will "act decisively to enforce the law".

James' epic journey with the piano ended after 17 miles on the outskirts of Wick. Picture: DGS
James' epic journey with the piano ended after 17 miles on the outskirts of Wick. Picture: DGS

James' John O'Groats to Land's End charity walk aims to raise money to provide musical instruments and online workshops for those struggling with mental health problems and autism. His charity is called TofalliMusic and he wants to help people suffering from some of the same issues he has had to deal with by using music as a form of therapy. To date he has raised £770 of his £20,000 goal.

"I've got a support vehicle lined up now for when I restart and that is going to be a great help."

When he's up and going again, James' journey can be followed at the TofalliMusic Facebook page www.facebook.com/tofallimusic and his fundraiser page is at gofund.me/4bc63690

Piano James dodges potholes and police on charity trek


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