Much-loved Big Issue vendor Graham Hoile had such a huge impact on his customers that they have teamed up to place a plaque at his pitch.
Known as ‘The Face of Fore Street’ during a decade selling the magazine outside the Co-op store in Heavitree, Devon, Graham tragically died after being struck by a train in May.
The 67-year-old, known as ‘Paddy’, had been street homeless and battled addiction for many years before his death.
In the last two years of his life, the Irishman got sober and found a place in supported housing. This allowed him to pursue his passion for cycling and he saved £1,000 of his earnings from selling the magazine to buy an electric bike.
He’d sold the magazine since 1992 in St Austell and in London, but it was his spell in Heavitree that left the biggest impact on customers.
They generously rallied alongside Co-op staff in the wake of Graham’s death to raise £180 in-store towards a plaque tribute which was placed on Graham’s pitch in November.
If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.
Richard Parker, Co-op Heavitree store manager, told The Big Issue: “Graham was very popular with customers and he used to shop in the store himself.
“He wasn’t pushy and was always helpful, coming into the store to point out shoplifters. He is much missed.”
Sarah Parkhouse, Big Issue sales and outreach worker for Devon and Cornwall, said: “We are really grateful to the Co-op’s support for Graham. I know Graham was a big part of the community and his death hit them hard.
“The plaque is a lovely tribute and it is great that Graham will be remembered by his loyal customers in Heavitree for years to come.”