News

The intimate Big Issue backyard wedding that was organised in just 48 hours

We head to Sydney for this week's My Pitch and hear the tale of two remarkable vendors

Every week in The Big Issue we profile a vendor on their pitch across the country. This week we head to Sydney, Australia to the celebrate the wedding of two remarkable and inspiring Big Issue Australia vendors.

In a back garden in western Sydney, a few friends have gathered on a winter’s day to witness a wedding ceremony organised in haste. And heartache. As a Celine Dion love song starts up, the bride Kelly begins her way down the aisle, along a special green carpet bordered by pebbles and pot plants. She is wearing a new blue dress, and carrying a posy of roses, baby-pink, red and yellow, a gift from her parents in Queensland.

The groom, Greg, is waiting. He’s grinning and crying. “With a beautiful bride coming down the pathway, I felt amazing,” says Greg later. “I had tears, I did.”

It’s not every day that a wedding is organised in 48 hours. But that’s what Sydney Big Issue vendors Greg and Kelly had to do, bringing forward their original plans on doctor’s orders. “We’ve both got spina bifida,” explains Greg. “I was very independent as a child. I was encouraged to do everything. I did the athletics carnivals, swimming carnivals. Then at 25 my balance became very unsteady.” After a series of operations, Greg collapsed and “they basically said, ‘Get used to life in a chair’.” That was 20 years ago.

For Kelly, it’s even more complicated. From a young age, her mobility was compromised. Then seven years ago, at the age of 30, she was diagnosed with syringomyelia, a build-up of fluid on her spinal cord. “My brain is herniating: it’s sucking my brain stem into my spine, and it’s crushing every internal organ in my body.”

It’s left her with a host of health issues, including depression, anxiety and breathing difficulties. “I am in pain 24/7… and things are just getting worse for me day by day, to the point where eventually it’s going to kill me,” she says.

Kelly and Greg first met playing mixed wheelchair football 15 years ago and had originally planned a big white wedding for October 2019. But during her monthly appointment at the spina bifida clinic, Kelly was advised to expedite the ceremony. “I told my doctor all the plans for the wedding… and he said, ‘If I was you, I would push your wedding as far forward as possible, because in my opinion you won’t be around in October next year.’”

The big white wedding quickly became a simple, intimate ceremony, still overflowing with love.

1325_mypitch_2

Greg was introduced to selling The Big Issue by Kelly, a long-time vendor. “What we’ve done wouldn’t have been possible if we weren’t selling The Big Issue,” says Greg. “We’re both in government housing, both on disability pensions, and it just would not have been possible without that little bit of extra income.”

“Greg is the love of my life,” adds Kelly. “I’ve always wanted to marry him, since the day we met. Going down the aisle was the best feeling of my life because I already knew we were destined to be together. When I said ‘I do’ I was over the moon! I couldn’t stop smiling. I still can’t stop smiling.”

Image: The Big Issue Australia

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Archbishop of Canterbury joins growing calls for end to 'cruel' and 'immoral' two-child benefit cap
archbishop of canterbury
Two-child benefit cap

Archbishop of Canterbury joins growing calls for end to 'cruel' and 'immoral' two-child benefit cap

Rewilding is bringing creatures great and small back to UK – but a lack of funds is holding it back
Rewilding

Rewilding is bringing creatures great and small back to UK – but a lack of funds is holding it back

FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?
Work

FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?

Almost no recorded cases of disability benefit fraud despite DWP crackdown: 'PIP fraud is a non-issue'
dwp pip/ disabled person
Disability benefits

Almost no recorded cases of disability benefit fraud despite DWP crackdown: 'PIP fraud is a non-issue'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know