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Big Issue vendors aim to bring ‘showmanship’ to London Marathon

Lee and Andre are feeling “relaxed” ahead of taking on the London Marathon to raise cash which will help vendors across the UK

Two Big Issue vendors say they are feeling relaxed ahead of taking on the London Marathon and have even vowed to bring a touch of showmanship to the race.

Andre Rostant, who sells the magazine in Soho and Covent Garden, and Cambridge seller Lee Welham are feeling “optimistic and relaxed” ahead of taking part in the event in aid of the Big Issue Foundation.

The vendors are taking donations ahead of the October 3 run to support the organisation, with nearly £1,200 of their £3,800 target raised so far.

“It’s going to be a fun day out. I’m going to put a bit of showmanship into it,” Lee told The Big Issue. “I’m not training for it, I’ve run marathons before without training and averaged about four and a half hours, so I’m aiming for that.”

The seller wants to help the Foundation fund identification documents such as birth certificates for “as many vendors as possible”.

“It’s a stepping stone to normality,” he said. “To get yourself a bank account and a job you need ID. A lot of vendors haven’t had ID for years and it’s something the average guy takes for granted.

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“It could make it easier for them to get card readers [to take card payments from customers], which would help their sales and increase their income. And that’s just one part of how the Foundation supports people.”

Lee has plans for a fundraising push in forthcoming weeks and intends to record video diaries on the day of the London Marathon. Together with Andre, he will join nearly 50,000 others taking on the 26-mile run, which raised nearly £66.4m for charity in 2019 and is set to crowdfund even more cash for good causes this year.

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Andre, who wants to support the Foundation after it helped him secure a part-time job at a law firm, is preparing himself for the event by going on long walks and jogs around Epping Forest. The vendor walks around ten miles three days per week on a round-trip to the law firm, where he works as an office assistant.

“I’m very optimistic and relaxed about it,” he told The Big Issue. “It’s great that we’ve raised so much money already and I’m looking forward to it.”

Andre ran the marathon a decade ago and is looking forward to a “great atmosphere”. He plans to walk most of the route but will run around London’s landmarks. “I can’t imagine running the full thing unless being chased by a very persistent tiger,” he added. 

“You very much feel buoyed by the people around you,” Andre said. “I’m keen to finish under five hours, but if I take longer than that I’ll know I made a valiant effort.”

You can donate to Lee and Andre’s fundraiser online.

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