We are saddened to announce that much-loved Big Issue vendor Mark Passell has died following a short illness.
The 53-year-old, known as “Scottish Mark” to his regular customers, was popular on his pitch outside Boots in Falmouth after first selling the magazine in his native Scotland in the Nineties.
He died in Treliske Hospital in Truro on Wednesday September 12 after he developed a blood infection and pneumonia.
Mark lived a colourful life as a part of the traveller community, including time spent in Brittany in France, Holland and Spain interspersed with spells of selling The Big Issue across the UK.
His ex-partner Hester Blindell – who was the mother of one of Mark’s three children – has penned a touching tribute to Mark.
She said: “I met Mark by his and his friend’s fire pit at Letham festival in 1996. He was in a punk band called Fud Rot and one night when he was due to play, his friends eventually found him dancing his socks off in the gabba tent. We never let him forget it.
“He was very handsome and in a world of hardcore drinking he always made me feel safe. We had both recently started selling the Big Issue and we’d go into Aberdeen to the bottom of Union Street and buy a sausage and egg roll followed by a hot doughnut with chocolate sauce before we started grafting.
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.
“I was pregnant by the February (we found out on April Fool’s Day) and Freddy Girl was born on November 27 1997. We lived on traveller sites around the country, doing farm work with spells of Big Issuing for years, later moving to Brittany, Holland, France and Spain. Being part of the traveller community was hugely important to Mark and his sense of self.
“Mark was always a better house (caravan) husband than me, although he’s the messiest person I’ve ever known! But he never got bored of hanging out with Fred and he showered the love that he was unable to give to his two children from a previous relationship onto her, always hoping that at some point they would make contact.
“In 2013 Mark used Facebook to let them know where he was and, always respectful of their wishes, he allowed them to guide their level of contact. It meant the world to him to know they had that choice.
“Mark and I separated in 2013 but as always, Mark continued having my back and we remained best friends. I moved to London and Mark stayed in Cornwall where the three of us had lived for some years.
“He sold the Big Issue in Falmouth and over the years built many good relationships with his customers, especially the locals and the nuns. Thankfully he had a great relationship with the charity St Petrocs who continued to support him.
“His relationship with our daughter became even closer, messaging each other every day and eating out every week. She really was his world (closely followed by his dogs Roxy and Cane) and this was often repeated by the staff that cared for him on Roskear Ward at Treliske Hospital. (He had them all wrapped round his little finger!)
“Mark and I both used drink and drugs throughout our lives and we have lost many dear friends, especially over the last year. It was a blood infection, exacerbated by pneumonia that led to his death after three months of illness. He was furious and not at all ready to go! We miss him and love him very much.”
Mark’s funeral will be held at Treswithian Crematorium in Camborne on Wednesday September 25 at 4pm. His family have set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to pay for the funeral costs with any extra money raised going towards St Petrocs Society, the Cornwall homelessness charity that helped care for Mark. You can donate to the fundraiser here.