Busking is the life for young Niall

By Olivia RichwaldMOST children watch television, play computer games or ride their skateboards in their spare time.But eight-year-old Niall Rothery has a more unusual hobby – he prefers to tout his talents on the streets and busk for his pocket money.

By Olivia Richwald

MOST children watch television, play computer games or ride their skateboards in their spare time.

But eight-year-old Niall Rothery has a more unusual hobby – he prefers to tout his talents on the streets and busk for his pocket money.

The youngster from Stowupland earned £20 in just a couple of hours after entertaining the people outside the Royal Arcade in Norwich with classic tracks from Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Ozzy Osbourne.


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With his parents keeping a watchful eye over their son, Niall entertained the crowds which gathered to hear his electric guitar melodies.

The youngster has been playing the guitar for less than two years, but was told by several passers-by he had the makings of a future rock star.

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Niall is now saving the money he makes from busking to buy a Fender guitar, which will set him back more than £600 – but he is already well on the way to his target, with £150 banked by his parents Melanie and Roger.

The Fender will be a far cry from the second-hand guitar Niall started out with which cost his mum and dad 50p from a car boot sale. He now has two electric guitars as well as an acoustic guitar.

Niall goes busking with his dad most weekends and can often be spotted in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket, as well as occasionally treating pedestrians in Covent Garden – where he once earned £100 in a day – or Leicester Square to his music.

"Middle-aged American tourists give him the most money and they like to take his picture," said his mum Melanie, 38.

"It's not like work for him, he plays because he enjoys it. If he's got a talent, he should exploit it as long as he is happy doing it. But some old ladies think it is disgusting that we have got him on the streets earning money."

Niall said: "Bury is my favourite place to busk, but I have also played in front of my school, although I didn't get any money. I would like to be a pop star like Ozzy Osbourne in the future."

His father Roger, 43, said busking was doing his soon a lot of good as he has performed in front of crowds of up to 60.

He added: "A lot of kids don't do anything with their spare time, they just sit around and watch TV and play computer games."

Niall's interest in busking began during a trip to London to see his brother Ryan, 12, who was being treated for kidney problems at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Mr Rothery took Niall to Covent Garden, where he watched in awe as a blues guitarist played to the crowds. He then let his son have a go with his 50p car boot sale instrument and he has been addicted every since.

The family have also recorded some of Niall's music at home and transferred them on to a CD – called Voodoo Child – which they sell as Niall busks in the streets.

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