Much-loved Big Issue vendor John Hill has died

The Glasgow seller died in October at the age of 42

Popular Big Issue vendor John Hill has been remembered for his “love, kindness and conscientious spirit” following his tragic death.

The Glasgow seller, who sold the magazine on the city’s Buchanan Street up until last June, died in October aged just 42.

John will be laid to rest on Wednesday November 13 at 11.30am at Linn Crematorium in Glasgow before a wake at the Kingspark Hotel in Rutherglen with all welcome.

One of John’s regular customers, Laura Brown, spoke to The Big Issue to pay a touching tribute to the vendor, praising him for “holding his head up high”.

“John later became my friend, but before that, he was my regular and reliable Big Issue vendor from Christmas 2013,” she said. “It was my first time working in the big city, and John formed part of the landscape with his bright red tabard and armful of magazines.

He always dressed smartly and held his head high

“When I met him, he was working on Buchanan Street, which is Glasgow’s main shopping hub. Come rain or shine, wind or hail, John would be out working his pitch. He was never loud or out there. He wasn’t an all singing, all dancing vendor, but more reserved and quietly respectful, steadfast in the storm of shoppers.

“John taught me a lot about the kind of life I didn’t know about. He showed me the ice on the shoulder of the DWP when he missed an appointment with them and was unceremoniously sanctioned for weeks on end. He showed me the heat of the fire at his back when he was facing eviction proceedings from the council, and the weight of the barriers he faced to try and enter the court proceedings in an attempt to defend himself and seek mercy.


The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.

“John also taught me a lot about love, kindness and having a conscientious spirit.  John knew that working alone in the city was an opportunity for an income. He also knew it came with it risks and he weighed those up in favour of the opportunity. John faced prejudice and discrimination from the public each day.  Tempting as it was, he didn’t bite back. He always dressed smartly and held his head high.

“The biggest lesson that John taught me is that a vendor is a person above all. A person is made up of flaws, weaknesses and chinks in their well-worn armour. A person is also made of the ability to care, to love and to persist and be there for friends and family when it matters most. I look through all of my Facebook message exchanges with John over the years and realise how much we shared with each other – moans about our day to day lives and celebrations of the little things that make life worth living.

“Over time, it became easier to see that sometimes his smile was genuine, and sometimes it masked his pain and worry. What a friend. Fly high.”

John is survived by his partner, Margaret and his father, John Snr.