The generosity of a Leeds Big Issue in the North vendor left charity runner Al Athraby stunned and emotional.
Homeless vendor Nigel emptied his pockets of all his change to donate to Al after he had just finished running the Leeds Jane Tomlinson 10k in aid of cancer charity MacMillan.
Al, who was limping back to his car with a back injury following the race, was approached by Nigel near his pitch outside the Merrion Centre in the city centre.
Father of two Al said: “I hadn’t seen him at first, I was shattered and on my way back to the car. I was in pain because I’d run the race with a back injury and was dosed up on painkillers.
“I thought at first he wanted to chat, or needed money and I just didn’t have any money on me. But then he emptied his pockets and asked me to take all he had to give to MacMillan. You could have knocked me down with a feather; it’s emotional to remember what happened.”
Al says the experience has restored his faith in human nature; just two weeks ago he was assaulted on a night out, knocked out and left with concussion.
He said: “My head hit the concrete. I was defenceless and never saw the punch coming.? He could have taken everything away from me – my wife and my boy and my girl – age 7 and 9.? I experienced every emotion since that night.? But what happened to me on Sunday morning allowed me to experience again the good in people.? Maybe, I met an angel that day, maybe not.? But I’m sure I experienced an angelic act.”
Vendor Nigel has been selling the magazine for many years and has been through plenty of difficult times having been in and out of work, in prison and even spent three and a half years living rough in a tent. But he regularly returns to the Big Issue in the North who he says are like family to him.
Nigel said: “I saw the man in his running vest and he’d just run 10k to help people with cancer. My niece has had leukaemia and her father died of cancer so it is an important cause to me.
“I just wanted to give what I could, I thought he’d done an amazing job and I think everyone should try and give what they can.”
Big Issue in the North Regional Manager for the North East Patricia Fas said: “We on the Leeds team know that Nigel is often very supportive of charities and so although this wasn’t an unusual or surprising thing for him to do, it is still fantastic that he did it and thought nothing of it, and that the person concerned was so moved by his generosity and took the time and trouble to get in touch to say so.Our vendors often face prejudice and hostility simply because they are vendors. I hope this demonstrates their humanity and willingness to support others in need”.
Al, who is the MD of a Leeds Telecom firm, Yoozoom.com, has raised £400 so far for MacMillan.