‘There will never be another bloke like him’

When Andy Murphy died last year he left a massive hole in Big Issue North’s Manchester community. His loved ones pay tribute to a one of a kind vendor and friend

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A vendor has paid tribute to his friend and fellow Big Issue North seller Andy Murphy, who died a year ago this month.

Chris, who sells the magazine in Manchester city centre, was devastated by Andy’s death following a long illness. The two met over 15 years ago when Chris started selling the magazine and they ended up sharing a flat.

“He was a really good mate. We were like brothers,” said Chris. “He was a real gentleman and there will never be another bloke like him.”

Andy was 53 when he died in September 2020 from chronic lung disease. We were unable to report the death at the time because of attempts to find his family by the coroner’s court and delays to the funeral because of the pandemic.

A very private man, Andy rarely spoke about his life publicly. He started selling the magazine in 2005 and was particularly known for working on a pitch outside Marks and Spencer’s in the city centre. It was there that many regular customers got to know him, including Ruth Pallister and Robert Gray, who together also paid tribute to the man.

“We met Andy about seven years ago on his pitch,” they said. “We became good friends and wouldn’t visit the city centre without calling in on him. He introduced us to many of his friends and other customers – it was a large and diverse group of people that Andy was at the heart of. It was a sign of just how popular Andy was that people gravitated to him and I don’t think he ever knew just how highly thought of he was, by so many people.

“In his final months we saw another side to Andy. He faced his illness with a bravery and stoicism that was humbling. He never showed a trace of self-pity, and remained positive and upbeat throughout even when he was clearly in great discomfort and knowing that he was very unlikely to recover.

“We lost a very dear friend and Manchester has lost one of its true characters – a kind, compassionate and selfless man who enriched the lives of many.”

Chris and Andy lived together for many years and the two of them rescued a dog, Taz, who is also a well-known presence in the city centre. The act of rescuing the dog, despite the financial hardship that the two vendors faced day to day, was, said Pallister “typical of Andy’s compassion and kindness. Andy would have done anything for his good friend Chris. He couldn’t hide his deep affection for him, or for his beloved dog Taz, who he doted on.”

He is also missed at the Manchester Big Issue North office.

“Andy was always an absolute pleasure to work with,” said Manchester team leader Ruth Tuck. “He was so well liked and hugely respected by all staff, vendors and his many regular customers. He was a truly kind hearted soul with an air of gentleness and he was very funny. He could effortlessly brighten up the dreariest day. I couldn’t tell you how many times Andy cheered us all up with his wit and wisdom, it was impossible not to like him and we had great lengthy conversations in the office and on outreach.

“Although life certainly hadn’t been an easy ride for Andy, he faced challenges with great resilience and a calm dignity. I feel I learned a lot about life from Andy and he will always remain in my thoughts as one of life’s treasures.”

A year on from his death, Chris said he still deeply misses his best friend.

“He was a large part of my life. I’ll never forget our friendship and he is missed by the many people who knew him. He was loved by many and he will never be forgotten.”

Photo: Ruth Pallister

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