Bristol Big Issue vendor Jack marries woman he met while sleeping rough

Andrew Burns Mar 21, 2016

Their engagement enchanted the world’s media - and then the Bristol community helped make their big day happen

 
It's a Big Issue love story that will make your day.

Big Issue vendor Jack Richardson and wife Toni Osborne – who made headlines around the globe with their engagement – got married this weekend in their hometown of Bristol.

The couple met in 2013 while Jack was sleeping rough in Bristol and lent Toni money to pay for electricity. They got engaged just before Christmas, hitting headlines from the BBC, The Guardian and Cosmopolitan, all the way to Australian Women’s Weekly.

They got married on Saturday in front of over 100 well-wishers at St Paul's Church in Clifton, followed by a wedding reception at nearby Bundy’s bar.

"It was a beautiful service and we're so grateful for all the support everyone's given us," Jack said. "We couldn't be happier."

Locals and businesses offered to help make it a dream wedding. “I can’t describe how amazing people have been,” Jack, 37, added.

“Averys Wine Merchants are supplying wine and champagne, we’ve had photographers and videographers, two hairdressers – Hobbs and Top Six Hairdressing – all offering their services. People have been ringing up Bundy’s and putting their own money behind the bar for the reception. It’s unbelievable.

An amazing person has even donated money for Toni to get a wedding dress. Then there’s a guy I know, from the pub down the road, who is my size and has a box of Armani suits. He’s very kindly offered to bring a few in for me to try and let me borrow one.

“Originally we were just going to go to the registry office and do it for as cheap as possible. That was the plan until my friend Dan, a vicar at the wonderful Pip n Jay Church in Bristol, offered to do the service for free.

“It really has turned into a fairytale that we could never have imagined. It’s like the universe has bent over backwards to make this happen, to help give Toni the wedding that she deserves. We would love if all my customers, and everyone who has helped in even the slightest way, could come and celebrate our big day – 1.30pm at St Paul’s Church. It really would mean the world to us.”

The happy couple first met when Jack asked Toni to buy a magazine in December 2013. However, she broke down in tears, explaining her own difficulties paying her electricity meter. This led to kindhearted Jack offering a small sum of his earnings to make sure she didn’t have to spend Christmas in the dark.

They soon got talking on a regular basis. Then, last Christmas, the comfy corner of an underground car park where Jack was sleeping got boarded up.

“I was in dire straits, facing sleeping outside again,” Jack recalls. “But Toni – this amazing woman who I had been speaking to – offered to put me up for a couple of months. So I moved into her place and my life changed completely. We started getting close, and slowly but surely we fell head over heels in love with one another.”

While Jack and Toni’s relationship has blossomed, Jack has embarked upon an Open University course in social sciences, continuing to sell the magazine to help him get by.

Jack proposed to Toni by going down on one knee while on his pitch in Park Street. “I did it in front of a lot of my customers, and thankfully Toni said yes,” Jack laughs. “I’m blown away by it all.”

“When we first met I was sleeping in a car park but she saw past that,” adds Jack. “She made a human connection. She really is an amazing woman.

“I can’t remember the last time I felt this way. My mum died when I was 13 and I was put into care. I’ve suffered from severe depression and, to be honest, I didn’t think I had it in me any more to feel good. I haven’t been this happy in all of my adult life.”

@andrewburns49

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