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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.”

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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.

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

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Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Winter. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Winter.

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