A Big Issue vendor who lost her husband, also a vendor, over Christmas has told The Big Issue she is “broken” by his death.
Popular seller Paul Clarkson, who sold the magazine for two years outside Sainsbury’s Local on Portland Road in Hove, died on Boxing Day from pneumonia at the age of 58.
The father of six and grandfather of three leaves behind partner Pamela Clark, 54, who also sells the magazine at Blackington Road Co-op in Brighton.
Pamela paid a touching tribute to Paul: “I’m broken. Absolutely broken. Paul was so loved by everyone, everybody loved my man.
“People were his life. We dressed up as Mr and Mrs Santa as always at Christmas and he wanted to be who he was and I will always respect that for the rest of my life.”
A former bricklayer, Paul ran his own business until a relationship breakdown left him homeless. Paul had been with Pamela for 15 years and married for four years.
Paul will be remembered in his native York with a service taking place at St Luke’s Parish Church on January 26 before being laid to rest at Fulford Cemetery in the city. Pamela is travelling from Hove to York to pay her respects.
But Paul’s regular customers and members of the local community in the pair’s adopted home of Brighton and Hove have rallied around Pamela in the wake of his death.
Paul was so loved. He had time for everybody
A fundraiser set up in Paul’s memory has raised more than £3,500 to support Pamela with travel costs as well as covering the cost of transferring Paul’s body to York. Pamela also wants to use the money for a memorial to Paul in Hove and is hoping to erect a plaque in his memory on his former pitch.
Pamela added: “It’s so amazing that people have done that but it says it all – Paul was so loved. He had time for everybody.
“We both always had time for people because we know what it is like to be out here, we’ve been out on the streets for 10 years. We both know what it is like even just to be said hello to.
“Paul was the best thing in my life.”
The loss of Paul’s life has been keenly felt locally with flowers laid on his pitch while Pamela left his Big Issue backpack and tabard alongside her own heartfelt tribute. The note read : “This is my heart and it belongs to you. My best friend, my soul mate, my other half of me. I love and treasure you forever. See you on the next one. Eternally Pam.”
Chris Holt, director of marketing and communications at St Christopher’s School in Hove near Paul’s pitch, also got in touch with The Big Issue to share his memories of Paul.
“I would always stop for a chat with him. He was endlessly positive about life, giving thanks for the pieces of good fortune that came his way.” said Chris.
“He had clearly had a tough life but he was never bitter or miserable. A man of proud Northern roots (his accent always reminded me of Lemmy from Motorhead), he was never ungrateful but sometimes a little bemused at some of the gifts he was given by Southern middle class shoppers leaving Sainsbury’s. Put it this way, he much preferred a pork pie to a vegan energy bar!
“As a school, we support a number of local charities for the homeless and vulnerable, and our efforts over the course of the coming months will be in his name. A man of strong Christian faith, his parting words to me were always “God bless yer, my friend!” in that gruff accent. God bless you, Paul.”