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.
We are gathered here today to celebrate a very special occasion – a Big Issue vendor wedding!
— The Big Issue (@thebigissue) September 7, 2018
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.”