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‘Michael was everything you want in a vendor and a friend’: Big Issue mourns seller Michael Crean

The much-loved Plymouth vendor died in June aged 44.

Big Issue vendor Michael Crean

Michael Crean became known around Plymouth for dressing up as Santa on his pitch at Christmas. Image: Susan Owen

Tributes have been paid to much-loved Big Issue vendor Michael Crean, who has died at the age of 44.

Crean started selling The Big Issue around Plymouth in 2018 and went on to cover pitches in nearby Ashburton, Ivybridge and South Brent after finding his “ideal job”, according to Susan Owen, The Big Issue’s frontline vendor support worker in Plymouth. He died from sepsis on June 11.

“Michael loved his work, it helped him financially but it was so much more than that,” said Owen.

“He had a huge heart and I have had so many messages from his customers since his death, everyone saying something positive, funny or loving about him. The Plymouth office has become a great deal quieter, especially on Monday mornings.

Big Issue vendor Michael Crean
Selling The Big Issue was the “ideal job” for Michael Crean, according to Big Issue staff who supported him. Image: Susan Owen

“Michael was everything you want both in a vendor and a friend. He was kind, thoughtful, enthusiastic and loved what he did. He will be sorely missed by all his friends and family and has genuinely left a big Michael-shaped hole in all our lives.”

Originally from Bradford, Crean moved down to the south of England 25 years ago to be closer to his two children.

He settled in Plymouth and found “friendship and purpose” in religion at the city’s Lighthouse Baptist Church.

It was then that Crean joined The Big Issue. He would go on to become a familiar sight selling the magazine around the city and its surrounding towns.

Crean, who also leaves behind four stepchildren, was known for lighting up his Big Issue tabard and bag with fairy lights at Christmas as well as offering out sweets to his customers. 

“Michael had a colourful life with many ups and downs but never a dull moment. He had several long-term health problems, many stemming from a fall on rocks when diving into the sea,” added Owen.

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“He had struggled to find regular employment with his physical and mental health issues but needed to be doing something.

“He found his ideal job: he could work around his health and hospital appointments, it suited his huge personality and friendly nature and gave him a purpose and structure. His love of the job was obvious to me from the start and he threw himself into it. I will always remember Michael as someone who gave everything 100 per cent.”

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