Local dignitaries, politicos and the homeless rubbed shoulders at the Merchant's House, Glasga. The occasion was to mark the first vendors awards - Real Lives, Real Achievements.Joan, John, Scott and Barry were rightly celebrated for their role as ambassadors for the homeless and the Big Issue.
Everyone was well turned out; in their best and on their best- well almost. Barrie couldn't resist shouting back answers to the speaker's rhetorical questions - something they hadn't scripted for. Each vendor gave a short acceptance speech recognising the pivotal role the Big Issue played in turning their lives around. It was one of those rare occasion; a ceremony that counted for something, reality without the tv.
The celebratory mood was briefly tempered when John broke news from the podium of his and Lisa's imminent relocation south of the border. As a keepsake of the moment Lisa asked for a 'photie o' evrywan." Martin piped-up "put yer hons oot."
The big guns were in attendance. CEO Stephen Robertson applauded the achievements of the vendors and spoke of the urgent need for the expansion of the services to be provided by a Big Issue Scottish Foundation.
Big Issue founder John Bird CBE (above) gave an impassioned speech recalling the inception of the Big Issue in Scotland in '69. The organisation had come a long way and was more vital than ever. He distinguished the aims of The Big Issue from that of 'charities' with a salient turn of phrase - "the Big Issue is a hand-up, not a hand-out."
With genuine concern John suggested I upgrade my camera (a compact) for something more professional and wondered if I knew that "the Big Issue discovered Rankin?" I presumed he didn't mean on the streets. He probably thought, sincerely, that I could benefit from his years of experience in the publishing industry. Or, had I been ranked?