Meadows plaque bid for Big Issue seller John White

Big Issue seller John White. Picture: Jo Hanley
Big Issue seller John White. Picture: Jo Hanley
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A WELL-known Big Issue seller who died earlier this week is set to be honoured with a lasting memorial at his Meadows patch.

John White – who once sold a copy of the magazine to Prince Charles – succumbed to cancer at the Western General Hospital on Monday, just five days after being admitted.

The 69-year-old became a popular figure with regular users of Middle Meadow Walk, which he called “the doughnut”, and was often spotted in his bright jacket and army trousers while singing merrily.

Tributes have been led by senior staff at the homeless fundraising publication and the Lord Provost.

Caitlin Rodgers, Big Issue team leader in Scotland, said: “He was a man of routine – he sold his magazines early in the morning till about noon and part of his morning ritual was having a coffee in Peter’s Yard.

“Then on a Tuesday he would be in the office at 8.30am waiting for the delivery to come to help with that.

“He was a curious character, he was a man of few words and would very much keep himself to himself, but the little snippets that he did give away showed his character.

“He would do a lot for you and he was a big believer in the Big Issue, so when he got tips from a customer he would put all that money towards buying Big Issue-branded clothing – he was always a bit of a walking advert for the Big Issue.”

Mr White was named Self Publicist of the Year in July at a ceremony to mark the Big Issue in Scotland’s 1000th ­edition and only last month he was out working nearly every day to catch the festival crowds.

He also dished out sales tips to the Lord Provost and ­Edinburgh Rugby players who took time out to join him on his patch.

And now those who knew him are aiming to buy a plaque which would be fitted to a bench in the Meadows as a lasting tribute.

Ms Rodgers said: “John was telling the Lord Provost how it’s done and when he did it with the Edinburgh Rugby team he was involved in giving them some solid tips.

“The Meadows will be a quieter place without him – you could always either see him or hear him.”

“John left instructions not to buy flowers, so we were just chatting in the office and came up with the idea to maybe put a plaque in the Meadows.”

Councillor Donald Wilson, the Lord Provost, said he was sorry to hear of the popular vendor’s death.

He said: “It is clear that John’s spirit boosted Big Issue sales in the Meadows, and through his role he raised countless funds for its charities.”

Backing for the memorial came from Heather Goodare, who runs the Friends of the Meadows group.

She said: “He was very generous, I remember he used to give out Christmas cards. It would be nice to have some sort of memory of him.”