Bryan Whiting, 39, Market Place, Richmond, North Yorkshire

“I’ve had so much help, it’s good to be there for others at this time of year”

I’ve been selling here in Richmond for the past few years now. It’s a great place – a market town with a village feel where everybody seems to know each other. People certainly know me by now. I’ve had a lot of great support here. I got dozens and dozens of cards on my birthday, and people in Richmond even set up a Facebook page for me. They’ve really rallied round me.

My ex-wife passed away from cancer a couple of years ago. I never thought I’d be someone to raise money, but I knew I needed to do something for her. So I started fundraising for a sponsored head shave, and eventually raised around £800 for Macmillan, the cancer charity. I did it again earlier this year and raised another £1,400.

My ex-wife passed away from cancer. I did a sponsored head shave, and raised around £2,200 for Macmillan

A couple of other people in Richmond have died of cancer this year. It’s sad. Coming up to Christmas, it can be difficult and poignant remembering people you’ve lost. But everyone now seems to know someone who has battled with cancer, so at least you can go through it together.

We have the Christmas lights up in the gardens around the Friary Tower, so everyone’s feeling pretty festive by now. There’s always a giant parrot that gets lit up – it got stolen one year, but I think it’s back again. There seems to be more and more lights every year.

DID YOU KNOW…

Last year, 27,000 people worldwide earned an income selling street papers, making a total of £23.4 million.

My problems with homelessness began many years ago after my brother died. But over the years I’ve put the pieces back together again. And The Big Issue has always been there for me. Thanks to my Big Issue earnings, I’ve got myself a bedsit room up in Darlington.

I’m managing to put a little money away in the hope of saving up for a motorbike. I had one years ago – a Honda – when I lived in Weymouth. It was great roaring along the south coast on the bike.

My problems with homelessness began many years ago after my brother died. The Big Issue has always been there for me

I’m also helping a pal of mine with his house. He’s not been too well, so I’m helping get rid of some clutter and we’ll get some heaters in for Christmas. I’ve had so much help myself, it’s good to be there for other people too at this time of year. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

My favourite place… Richmond. I love this town, especially the spots down by the River Swale. You have Richmond Castle and the waterfalls, all close to the town centre. A lovely place.

If I won the lottery… I’d give quite a lot to charity, and get myself a great motorbike – a top-of-the-line Honda. I’ve always loved the independence a bike can give you.

On my pitch… I’m on the market place from 10am until 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

Photo: Rob Clipsham

Market Place, Richmond, United Kingdom
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