A big-hearted Big Issue vendor says that he feels like a “local celebrity” after winning an award for his community work.
The 51-year-old was nominated for the award, which acknowledges people who reduce isolation in the local area create great places to live.
— andrew john mcgarry (@BigissueAndrew) December 5, 2017
And Andrew, who attended the ceremony on Tuesday after a shift on his pitch, has certainly been hard at work to do just that since moving to the area from Towcester to sell the magazine 12 months ago, becoming well-known for his charity work and fundraising to help others.
He said: “It’s amazing and it was such a great experience to win the award.
“I had no idea I had been nominated until I got an email telling me that I was up for the award. I was completely in the dark but I must have got quite a few votes to win.
If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.
“People know me as a street vendor here and I suppose I am quite a bit of a local celebrity – I use some of the money I get from selling the magazine to help other people and I suppose that is quite unique.
“It was quite hard going when I first moved to Exeter a year ago but I think I’ve shown that with dedication and hard work you can make a real success.”
"I've been looking forward to this for months. No one believed I was actually coming to parliament. Here I am!"
📷: Exeter vendor Andrew pic.twitter.com/u3jpLt8Okm
— The Big Issue (@BigIssue) July 26, 2017
The award marks a landmark year for Andrew, who uses a portion of the money he earns as a vendor to help local homeless shelter, St Petrock’s – donating £100-worth of socks and underwear in June. And he was part of a group of Big Issue vendors invited to the Houses of Parliament at Westminster by Big Issue founder Lord John Bird in July.
He also joined Bishop Martin Shaw in a talk about homelessness at Exeter Cathedral in September and is now launching a voucher scheme to help those living on the city’s streets as well as supporting St David’s Church soup kitchen in the city.
This year has been no one-off either – Andrew used trolleys borrowed from the Co-op to collect lots of tents, sleeping bags and warm clothes, before donating the gear to a church in Towcester in 2015.
After the thrill of the awards ceremony Andrew is now back on his pitch, so drop by and congratulate him – and pick up a copy of the magazine of course!