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Our vendor in Truro hails the local heroes who have supported him over 15 years

Nick Cuthbert has been selling The Big Issue outside Marks & Spencer in Truro, Cornwall, for 15 years. As part of our Big Issue vendor takeover he has paid tribute to the local heroes he’s met in that time.

Vendors like me probably wouldn’t survive without all the little helping hands.

They might think it’s little but all these people help me keep my pitch going and help me be who I am. Whenever I have a problem it usually gets around the town somehow, and people come forward to help.

1) The people who cut my hair, MACS Barbershop in Truro, have been doing it for years – they even put a photo up on their board of me wearing my tabard after my haircut the other day. Instead of buying the magazine, they swap it for a free haircut, and even let my dog in with me.

2) John and Liz Bradshaw are a big help. John bought me a sandwich board and prints laminated signs so I can let people know I take card payments. He also takes photos when we do events. Liz also buys me candles so I can light up my pitch.

3) When we hold events where we get people to try selling the magazine, the town crier Lionel Knight always comes down with his bell and calls them out.

4) Truro Business Improvement District always let me know what events are going on near my pitch so I can prepare and they keep other charities away from me so they don’t affect my sales.

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5) I was down after my last dog died, but my customers Liz and Bill each put a third in alongside me so I could buy my dog Bryony. They also help me order things online and help me with anything to do with a computer.

6) Pannier Market take all my change so I can convert it – it took me ages to find someone to help me do that. They also give me the market prices, which are a little bit cheaper than everybody else.

7) The electric stall on Pannier Market let me store Bryony’s bed, my Big Issue bag and the sandwich board in their store cupboard so I don’t have to carry it around.

8) The owner of the pet shop in the market brought dog food up to me during lockdown when I couldn’t sell the magazine and he also helps me out if he’s got cat food that is almost out-of-date.

9) We get our supplies of the Big Issue magazine at the Spar shop at Lemon Quay and it’s brilliant that they do that for us. We get a free coffee every morning as we go in, which is sound of them.

10) Then there’s the O2 Shop. Griff who works there is an absolutely amazing man. He’s helped me to set up my last two card readers and downloads everything I need on to my phone so I can offer contactless payments. He even swapped all my contacts to a new phone when I cracked the screen. I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it. I don’t have much patience for all that.

11) Jamie Purvis at City Road Vets will always check up on Bryony when he’s got a day off.

12) I get a free loaf of bread and a cake every Wednesday and Saturday when they hold the farmers’ market.

13) The gas company won’t drive up to my caravan so Ann Pengelly, a customer, keeps my 42kg gas bottle and drives it up to me when it is delivered. She used to do all my washing as well up until Covid-19.

14) My ex-girlfriend Liz does my washing now – the local laundrette won’t let me in because I look homeless. So that’s a big help.

15) M&S have always been brilliant to me, letting me sell the magazine outside their store. They always give me a Christmas present too.

Nick Cuthbert sells The Big Issue outside Marks & Spencer in Lemon Quay, Truro

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