Much-loved Big Issue vendor Fabian Bayet has been remembered in the town where he sold the magazine for 25 years – with a plaque and a joke book.
Belgium-born Fabian, known as Belgium the Waffle for his chatty demeanour, had become of fixture of Stony Stratford High Street before he died in July aged 48.
But his contribution to the local community has not been forgotten and campaigners from local homelessness charity The Bus Shelter MK have installed a framed sketch of Fabian on the high street to pay tribute.
The touching drawing was unveiled on Saturday alongside the launch of a joke book that has been dedicated to Fabian.
“Fabian was very loved, said Lisa McDonnell, a Bus Shelter MK volunteer. “Stony Stratford is a town that has a real connection with Fabian – that connection is so strong that it felt very fitting that we dedicate the book to him.
It’s no joke is dedicated to Fabian Bayet. A beautiful soul who lit up the town of Stony Stratford with his humour and…
“It is a fabulous way to show how loved he was and how much people took him to their hearts. He became a great personal friend of mine.”
‘It’s No Joke’ features jokes from homeless people that The Bus Shelter MK works with – all profits from the sale of the book will go back to the charity.
Since 1991 The Big Issue has sold more than 200,000,000 copies – helping the most vulnerable in society earn more than £115 million.
Cover star Tony’s wit sparked the unusual fundraising idea, according to Lisa, and the book is available online as well as in two high-street stores in Stony Stratford and the information desk at intu Milton Keynes shopping centre.
Lisa McDonnell, a volunteer at The Bus Shelter MK, said: “The book was inspired by a 72-year-old man called Tony who has been rough sleeping for two years. We are in the process of moving him into somewhere permanent and during this whole process I was struck that he was still able to smile and tell jokes.
“So I told him, “Tony I’m going to make you famous”. So now months later everyone has got behind this book and it was very popular on Saturday when we raised more than £1,000 for The Bus Shelter MK.”
Martin Petchey, the Mayor of Milton Keynes, has also added his backing to the project.
“I selected The Bus Shelter MK to be my charity of the year because I was impressed that a small group of Milton Keynes citizens decided to do something innovative to help people experiencing homelessness,” he said. “I have seen first-hand that this local charity is really making a difference with the shelter and support they provide to get people back on their feet.”