A popular Big Issue seller based in Winchester should be honoured with a statue, locals have said, after plans for a life-sized sculpture of environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg at the city’s university sparked debate.
Winchester University announced plans to unveil a £23,760 life-sized sculpture of the 18-year-old activist to “inspire” students on its new campus.
The plan sparked a conversation over who else in the city should be honoured, with much-loved Big Issue seller Kev Collick put forward as a candidate.
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Kev is known locally for his generous charity work and donning a now-famous Christmas tree outfit during the festive months.
He raised more than £5,000 for Children in Need in 2016 and Winchester residents voted for him to turn on the city’s Christmas lights the year after.
Winchester City Council and Winchester University have now backed the campaign.
Lucille Thompson, leader of Winchester City Council, said: “Kev switched on our Christmas lights and is a local celebrity.
“He is much loved and a friendly, smiley face that you see on the high street. He has a great rapport with shoppers and visitors.
“If a group of people wanted to fundraise for a statue I’m sure it would be a popular thing to donate to.”
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Winchester University also backed the plans.
A spokesperson added: “Kev Collick is a well-known and much-loved character in the city and it would be good to think that the city might honour him with his own statue one day.”
Christine Charlesworth, the artist behind the Greta Thunberg sculpture, even said she would be happy to create the work.
“Certainly if the people in Winchester would like a statue of local vendor Kev and they would like to organise the fundraising, I would be delighted to be the chosen artist to create the artwork,” she told The Big Issue.
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Like more than a thousand Big Issue sellers across the country, Kev has been off his pitch and unable to work due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The magazine has supported vendors throughout the Covid-19 crisis by providing more than £1 million in cash, shopping vouchers and other essentials.
Kirsten Thomson, sales and operations manager for The Big Issue in the South West, added: “It’s incredible how much people love Kev in Winchester. He is a fantastic seller and puts the time and effort in.
“He cares about people, he likes speaking to people and people love him because of how passionate he is about the Winchester community.
“It’s not a stroke of luck that people want to honour Kev with a statue. He brings a lot of joy to the high street.”