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Opinion

John Bird inducted into Hall of Fame at the PPA Awards

John Bird introduced on stage by former vendor Joel Hodgson as he becomes the sixth inductee to the Professional Publishers Association Hall of Fame

The Big Issue’s founder John Bird was inducted into the PPA Hall of Fame at a glittering awards show in London last night.

The gala event, hosted by broadcaster Edith Bowman, celebrates the very best in magazine publishing, with everyone from British Vogue to the Beano via Mixmag and Country Life represented.

On a raucous night, the final award, and a huge standing ovation, was reserved for Lord Bird. The PPA board were, they said, “unanimous in electing John into this distinguished canon,” citing his “truly revolutionary work.”

A man of many words, Bird chose a surprisingly short Bertolt Brecht quote for his speech, paying tribute to the whole Big Issue team in inimitable style.

“Alexander conquered India (he must have had someone with him),” roared Bird from the stage to wild applause.

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Before leaving to celebrate with the team, he quipped: “I have won a lot of awards in my lifetime and I have to say, with my hand on my heart, this is the most recent.”

John Bird has changed my life

Bird was introduced on the night by Joel Hodgson, a former Big Issue vendor who now works for a top law firm.

And while Bird’s words raised the laughter, it was Hodgson’s that hit home with the journalists and industry professionals in the room.

In a powerful and moving speech, Hodgson recalled his own journey out of homelessness. Hodgson recently moved law firms as he continues to climb the career ladder, and explained how he has now “met the Queen about six times” and even carried the Olympic torch in 2012.

But it was selling The Big Issue after becoming homeless in 2009, and then becoming our first vendor to undertake a corporate work placement scheme set up by The Big Issue Foundation the following year, that helped him take his vital first steps away from homelessness.

“John Bird has changed my life,” he said.

And Hodgson’s is just one of the lives changed by the Big Issue’s mission to offer a hand-up to people facing homelessness. But his speech highlighted why our mission to eradicate poverty, to prevent homelessness and help our vendors reach their potential remains so important.

Hodgson was last seen busting some moves on the dancefloor, showing the raucous revellers from the Beano and hard-partying Mixmag crew how it is done.

John Bird’s induction into the Hall of Fame ended a fine night at the PPA Awards for The Big Issue, which picked up Bronze in the Cover Of The Year category (as voted for by the reading public) and celebrated a nomination for Managing Director Russell Blackman for Team Leader of the Year.

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