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‘Never to be forgotten’: Late Big Issue vendor Ed Sirani given bench tribute

Locals in New Milton raised funds to pay for a bench to be placed on Ed’s pitch after he died last year.

Much-loved Big Issue vendor Ed Sirani will leave a lasting impression on his pitch in New Milton after locals installed a bench and a plaque in his memory.

The touching tribute, which reads: “In loving memory of Eddie. The heart of our community. Never to be forgotten”, was unveiled on July 3 after councillors in the Hampshire town and the local community opted to create a lasting memorial to the vendor.

Ed died last September aged 63 after spending more than a decade selling The Big Issue magazine outside McColl’s in New Milton.

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The popular vendor has been “much missed”, New Milton town mayor and chairman of New Milton Town Council Councillor Keith Craze said.

“Ed was a big part of the local community who were so used to seeing him on his pitch in any weather. They really do now miss him not being there,” said Cllr Craze.

“Everyone liked how he was always talkative and cheery all year round irrespective of the time of year or the weather. Even now you walk past the doorway where he would be standing now and you think, ‘Hang on, what’s missing?’ 

“The bench is a measure of the esteem in which he was held in the town. He was the heart of our community.” 

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A plaque was suggested originally at a full council meeting in October at the request of former chief fire officer Steve Tolley and quickly secured council backing, Cllr Craze added. 

Both council and community funds were used to pay for the plaque and the bench.

Ed’s brother Alex, based in the USA, told The Big Issue the gesture had touched the Sirani family. He said: “I think the bench idea is great, my family and I really appreciate it.”

Simon Chilcott, the head of service development for The Big Issue Foundation, The Big Issue’s sister charity, joined Major Margaret Bailey from The Salvation Army to give the bench its unveiling on July 3.

“We had a photo of Ed hanging over the bench and me and the lady from the Salvation Army cut these little cords to unveil the little plaque underneath. Then we took a happy moment to celebrate his life,” said Chilcott.

 “It was a lovely little ceremony and it was a beautiful tribute. I was absolutely gobsmacked at what the local community has done for Ed and how they came out to support him.”

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Ed, who grew up in Iran before coming to the UK in 1979, was well-known on his pitch for championing The Big Issue cause and was voted Big Issue Vendor of the Year in 2015 for the Dorset and Hampshire area.

His death last year saw floral tributes placed on his pitch while a flurry of customers got in touch with The Big Issue to pay their respects.

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