Thanks to our loyal readers and an army of support from across the UK, The Big Issue scooped the British Cover of the Year category at the prestigious national PPA Magazine Awards in London last week.
Our Remembrance cover – featuring a stark photograph of Sergeant Rick Clement, who lost his legs in Afghanistan in 2010 when he stepped on a roadside explosive device – was one of just 10 shortlisted by judges from all magazines in the country. The list then went to a public vote. Competition was fierce, including Radio Times’ Doctor Who cover and Elle magazine’s Emma Watson-fronted feminism issue.
— Bryan Adams (@bryanadams) July 10, 2015
But with the support of our readers, the wider public and a multitude of armed forces personnel past and present we received the most votes in the Awards’ public poll and romped to victory. Rick was a guest at the ceremony at the Grosvenor Hotel, as was rock-star-turned-photographer Bryan Adams, who took the striking photograph of Rick.
Rick, resplendent in his military medals recognising his 14 years of decorated service, said: “I’m extremely proud to have been a part of this wonderful achievement and to have been able to have supported The Big Issue. It’s something I will never forget.
“I’m so thankful for what I’ve been through, that I survived and I am here to say these words, and I want to thank everyone who voted for us to win. I’d like to dedicate this to everyone that has lost their lives in any conflict, and in particular three of my friends – Rocko, Jordan and Taggy. This one’s for you, boys.”
— The Big Issue (@BigIssue) July 9, 2015
Bryan, who joined Rick and Big Issue editor Paul McNamee on stage to collect the award (pictured below), added: “It’s brilliant for the magazine, I’m absolutely delighted, especially when you hear that up to 10 per cent of the vendors are ex-forces. I’m proud that the message is getting out that people like Rick don’t get forgotten.”
Our Remembrance issue used several photographs from Adams’ book, Wounded: The Legacy of War. Being nominated for the Award and engaging with the public on such a massive scale also reminded people that a number of ex-forces personnel do not benefit from the support vital to making a life at home once they return from active service.
— Barry McIlheney (@barrymcilheney) July 11, 2015
Struggling to cope with mental health issues and physical disability can lead to unemployment and homelessness, and many veterans end up at The Big Issue’s door, selling our magazines across Britain – often without their customers being aware of their service to the country.
Paul McNamee said: “It’s a great honour for The Big Issue. To be shortlisted against the best of the industry and then to be voted as winner by the great British public is a fantastic double whammy. We thank everyone who voted.
“Rick said beating Doctor Who would be a tough battle – well he did it! It’s a simple stark picture that says a lot about the fight so many ex-forces face when they return home, both with awful life-changing injuries and mental issues that aren’t so clearly seen but carry deep, deep scars.
“There are many great organisations for veterans in Britain, but sometimes they don’t reach everybody. At The Big Issue we’re proud to offer a safety net for men and women who have served and who need us. A good number of our vendors are ex-forces. It’s fitting that this cover should be so well received, representing what it does for veterans and our vendors.
— PPA (@PPA_Live) July 9, 2015
“This victory is sweet, but it’s a reminder that every week we have to keep the standard up. We must do it for our vendors. Lives depend on it.”
Meanwhile, Rick Clement has revealed he has another big battle ahead. Using incredible robotic prosthetic legs, he is aiming to walk again during Remembrance Day services this year.