Olympian effort: Former vendor becomes torch bearer
A former Big Issue vendor will this weekend carry the Olympic torch on one of its final stages towards the Olympic stadium in London.
Joel Hodgson, who was homeless several months ago, will take the flame through the streets of east London on Saturday morning.
“This is surreal,” said 25 year old Hodgson. “I’m really excited, because it’s a massive honour and something I will remember for the rest of my life.
“If you had told me about this two years ago, I would never have believed it.”
Joel and his girlfriend became homeless in 2009 and spent weeks at a time living in a campsite in Chingford, east London, or staying on the steps of a police station.
He started selling the Big Issue and as he showed such determination and focus that staff helped him to land a sought after internship with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, a law firm with 28 offices around the world.
After a few months, they offered him full time work in the billing department and he was able to afford a house in Enfield, a suburb in the north-east of the capital.
Then, to round off his wonderful journey back from the brink, Hodgson recently was chosen by his home country Belize to represent them in the 100m at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.
“Not in a million years did I expect any of this to happen,” he adds.
Saturday’s procession starts at Woolwich Manor Way in Beckton, Newham, at 10am. Joel will carry the torch at 10:50 and the parade will stop at Royal Albert Way.
Look out for a full interview with Joel on the Big Issue’s website on Monday and follow our Twitter account at @bigissue for live coverage of the parade.