Big Issue staff have paid tribute to popular Cardiff vendor Maurice Richards after he sadly died on Monday April 20.
The 60-year-old, who worked on his Charles Street pitch in the city centre, had been in ill-health for some time. The cause of his death has not been confirmed at this time.
Maurice started selling the magazine in December 2015 and will be sorely missed by his friends, customers and those who worked with him.
Maurice previously worked on a building site but emphysema meant he was forced to stop and he turned to The Big Issue to earn a living when his statutory sick pay meant that he was unable to keep up with his rent.
But he soon saw selling the magazine “as a way of life,” said Big Issue Cymru sales and operations manager Tom Watts.
“He took to selling The Big Issue immediately and quickly established himself on his pitch,” Tom added. “Until he became unwell last year he could be found on his pitch seven days a week.
“He was a well-known character in Cardiff. He enjoyed chatting with his friends and customers and always had a different story to tell.”
Maurice became such a beloved figure among the local community that he found himself in the press on a regular basis representing The Big Issue. As well as giving the inside scoop on Cardiff in a Big Issue vendor city guide, he featured on the front cover of Italian street paper Scarp de’tenis and was made into Mr March for Slovakian street paper NotaBene’s annual calendar.
Tom said: “Maurice loved selling The Big Issue and did it not only as a source of income but saw it as a way of life, something which he was proud to do.
“He was unusual for a vendor in that I think he would have still sold the magazine even if he was rich. Selling the magazine was how he expressed himself. He saw himself as a professional.”
Maurice, il venditore di @BigIssueCymru è mancato. Pochi mesi fa il suo volto sulla copertina di @scarpdetenis celebrava l'anniversario della nostra rete @_INSP. Un abbraccio ai nostri amici e colleghi di @BigIssue pic.twitter.com/ya7aU0mfoD
— Stefano Lampertico (@StefanoLamp) April 28, 2020
As well as spending a few years working on fairgrounds, Maurice spent his 20s as an amateur boxer at Neath boxing club in South Wales. He recalled his memories of life in the ring in a 2017 Big Issue article.
Maurice’s determination won him plenty of admirers among his regular customers. And his attitude to selling the magazine is perhaps best summed up by his reaction to the Beast from the East in 2018, when he told The Big Issue: “It can snow, it can rain, whatever. I’ll still be out there.”
Now his customers have rallied round to raise funds to pay for Maurice’s funeral with a GoFundMe page which has so far raised almost £800.
Everyone at The Big Issue and the customers and people who met him on his pitch will miss Maurice.