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'One of a kind' London vendor Donato Barbieri has died

The much-travelled 72-year-old was a big hit with customers and commuters on his Victoria station pitch

Photo: David Tett

We are saddened to report that one of The Big Issue’s best-loved vendors, Donato Barbieri, who was immensely popular with customers at one of Britain’s busiest railway stations, has died.

The Turin-born 72-year-old London Victoria Station seller passed away on September 14 after a short illness following a spell in Slovenia.

He had been selling The Big Issue magazine for three years before setting out for Slovenia in July.

Donato came to the UK in his latest stop on a globetrotting tour that had seen him travel to Australia to work in nickel mines, try his hand as a waiter in London in the Seventies as well as spending time employed on a cruise liner.

When he returned for a second stint in the English capital in September 2015, Donato spent a few months sleeping rough and sheltering at a Methodist church in Chelsea before turning to The Big Issue.

He told us that “selling The Big Issue gave an old man like me purpose” in a My Pitch interview in 2016.

Donato was also among the vendors who attended the House of Lords as a guest of Big Issue founder Lord John Bird last year, and before his death had started a placement with the Wellcome Trust allowing to sell the magazine at their north-west London headquarters as well as receiving mentoring and training.

”Donato was a well-liked, cheerful, and hard-working vendor,” said Big Issue London distribution team leader Lauren Neale. “We are extremely sad to hear the news, and he will be sorely missed by all of us in London Distribution and by his customers alike. He was one of a kind.”

https://twitter.com/askreportormoan/status/788313241952854016

Big Issue London regional manager Chris Stuchbery added: “Donato was a well-loved character wherever he sold The Big Issue.  His passing was a shock to all and he will be missed by all who came into contact with him.

“Donato sold in Victoria Station, The Wellcome Trust and Angel for the time he was with us and really engendered great support from the public and was valued by the communities he became part of.”

Throughout his time selling the magazine, Donato’s customers were constantly in touch with The Big Issue to tell us how much of an impact he had on their day.

Regulars described him as “lovely” and “the sweetest soul” as well as insisting that he “touched hearts” with his unique story.

Image: David Tett

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