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Late vendor Kevin Headley to be remembered with exhibition and memorial

The Hackney Wick seller, who died aged 52 last May, was a huge presence in the local music scene – now pals have come together to remember him

Friends of late Big Issue vendor Kevin Headley have rallied round to remember his life with a grassroots exhibition and a memorial.

The veteran Hackney Wick seller, known as Kev, inspired an outpouring of emotion and tributes on his pitch outside the London Overground station after he died on May 5 last year aged 52.

As well as being a much-loved vendor, Kev was a well-known local activist who worked tirelessly to support homeless charities as well as curating local arts events and music festivals.

That tale will be told at a new exhibition kicking off today (April 26) at Undercurrents Gallery at The Bird Nest pub in Deptford. The opening day will also coincide with a clothes swap initiative as well as an open mic night and concert.

He made it his life effort to help others and bring people together to celebrate life and creativity regardless of the difficulties we may face in order to survive.

Karen Barnes, from The Minesweeper Collective which is organising the event, told The Big Issue that she is working with Kevin’s family on the to produce a memorial to be unveiled on the one-year anniversary of his death.

Karen said: “I have been in close contact with Kevin’s family since he passed away last year, particularly with his sister Jennifer.

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“It’s going to be a special few days – and we are also planning a memorial to Kev on May 5 to remember Kev one year after he died.

“He made it his life effort to help others and bring people together to celebrate life and creativity regardless of the difficulties we may face in order to survive.

“When the going got really tough in Deptford with the burning down of the Minesweeper and a lot of heavy council activity, which is still going on, Kevin came to our aid like the angel that he is.”

That council activity is a stand-off between Lewisham Council and activists who have occupied nearby Tidemill Community Garden since last August in resistance to plans to redevelop the site to build new homes.

I know that if Kev was still here with us then he would be stood by our side.

With that ongoing action and the concluding Extinction Rebellion protests, Karen reckons the exhibition, which runs until May 30, can tap into the activism on show in the English capital.

“The sheer polarity of politics is massive at the moment and we are currently in a massive stand-off with the council as we have been occupying a council building in Deptford,” she said.

“I’m hoping that this exhibition will bring together that movement and the Existence Rebellion movement together in a lot of ways. Because I know that if Kev was still here with us then he would be stood by our side.”

The exhibition is not the only ongoing effort to keep Kevin’s legacy alive – his Hottie, a hot water bottle-cum-backpack designed to keep homeless people warm, is also being developed by pals.

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