Popular Bath vendor who had a ‘heart of gold’ Ivon Sanwell has died

The 56-year-old insisted that selling The Big Issue had given him a “sense of pride”

We are saddened to report that much-loved Big Issue vendor Ivon Sanwell has died.

The Bath seller, 56, was found dead at Julian House homeless hostel on Tuesday – the second Big Issue vendor to do so in four months after Jo Jones died in November. The cause of death is not known at this stage.

Long-term vendor Ivon grew up in Essex before moving over to Bristol. After splitting with his partner, Ivon made the switch to Bath looking for a fresh start and started selling The Big Issue magazine at the beginning of 2017.

Big Issue vendor Ivon Sanwell

Speaking to The Big Issue in his My Pitch interview later that year, he said: “I decided I needed to really try to pull myself together here. So I started the magazine and slowly but surely I’m making it work. It’s given me a bit of money and my confidence back. Being out speaking to people has taken me out of myself.

“I think it’s a good place, Bath. People do seem to want to help.”


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.

Ivon took over the Halfpenny Bridge pitch in the Widcombe area of the city following the death of fellow vendor Istvan Kakas last October. Ivon was one of the vendors who attended Istvan’s funeral to pay his respects.

And that’s one of the reasons why he had a “heart of gold”, according to Big Issue Bath and Bristol service broker Geo Leonard.

Ivon Sanwell
Ivon Sanwell was one of many vendors who paid tribute to Istvan Kakas at his memorial service (Credit: Geo Leonard)

“Ivon was one of our long-term vendors,” said Geo. “He was well liked in the community by customers, support staff and his friends and I know he appreciated his customers’ support very much.

“Ivon told me that The Big Issue was the first job he’d ever had and it gave him a sense of pride. Ivon had an interesting past and a heart of gold. He will be missed by all of us in Bath.”

Image: Sean Malyon