A heroic Big Issue vendor has dramatically saved a man’s life after stepping in to stop him from jumping off London Bridge.
Kerry, who sells the magazine outside Waitrose on the bridge’s north embankment, was approached by a man and a woman at lunchtime on January 3.
The woman asked him for help and tearfully told him that she had just stopped the man from jumping off the bridge. Kerry joined the pair in discussing the man’s problems in a bid to calm him down for 15 minutes before they went their separate ways.
But the 44-year-old vendor, who has sold the magazine for a year-and-a-half after a spell selling 15 years ago, was still concerned for the man’s welfare and decided to keep an eye on the man.
It was then that the man began to climb over the bridge walls again and quick-thinking Kerry rushed to his aid, pulling him down from the bridge.
One of the things that was quite humbling and encouraging that a member of the public chose to ask me, a Big Issue vendor, for help
“It turned out that he told us he had a gambling addiction and it had destroyed his life, left him lonely with no friends and he was quite matter of fact about wanting to kill himself,” said Kerry.
“When he got to the middle of the bridge, which was packed with people, he swung his legs on to the wall and started to climb over so I grabbed him and pulled him down.
“He didn’t struggle, there was no fight left in him, he was just done. I walked him back to my pitch and sat him down there and I managed to flag down a group of coppers who had stopped a car on the bridge and one of them contacted the ambulance.”
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
Kerry has been hailed a hero by his customers and the police in the wake of his life-saving intervention.
Mike Park spoke to Kerry on his pitches in the days that followed and told The Big Issue: “For me, it was a privilege to have such a poignant conversation with a modest man who despite his own needs and experience took the incredible step to literally save someone else’s life. There is no greater service that can be given.”
Attending officer City of London Police’s Peter Lucas said: “Kerry’s calm and compassionate actions allowed the male to receive the help he required and be taken to a place of safety.”
Kerry insisted that he has been deeply affected by the incident and has been given support from The Big Issue.
“I’ve never been in that position in my life, these things happen very quickly so I’m not really sure what went through my mind,” said Kerry. “It is quite harrowing when you see a fellow human being so desperate that they want to do something like that. It’s just an automatic response to step in and it’s only afterwards when you think about that it is very upsetting.
“One of the things that was quite humbling and encouraging that a member of the public chose to ask me, a Big Issue vendor, for help. In many ways, I guess that I was a good person to help because I was able to put myself in his shoes.”
Chris Falchi-Stead, director of sales and operations at The Big Issue, said: “We at The Big Issue are very proud of Kerry for going above and beyond to help this man at a time when he needed it most. It is to Kerry’s credit that he was able to show such compassion and calmness in such an intense situation and we hope that the man is now able to get the help that he needs.”