“Thank you from the bottom of my heart” is what Lincoln’s most popular Big Issue seller said when he found out about a fundraiser to get him through surgery.
Local people touched by his story raised more than £6,000 to help him.
Richard or ‘Richie’ can seen on most days just outside M&S selling the Big Issue with a big smile on his face, but for the last 15 years he has been in agony with his right leg.
It’s Friday morning on the High Street and people passing by can hear Richard’s familiar voice shouting out to his friends: “Hello Tim, hope the family is well”, and “take care ladies, God bless.”
The 47-year-old, who currently lives in a bedsit, suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and at a recent check-up, doctors told him that he only has 7% circulation left in his leg.
He is currently on the waiting list to have his leg amputated and hopes to be in surgery before Christmas.
After surgery Richard thinks that he will need to recover for about six to eight weeks at his bedsit in the lower High Street area so he will not be able to sell the Big Issue and feared the worst.
Deborah Chester, who was left homeless herself after a tornado ripped up her New Zealand home, was heartbroken when she heard Richard’s news and decided to set up a Facebook fundraiser.
She said: “I thought at first that we might get around £500 but the donations just kept coming. Never did I expect to find out that the donations had reached the level it has.”
The fundraiser ended on September 27 at a staggering £6,088. Unfortunately, Facebook takes fees so Richard will get £5,312.
Richard, who has sold Big Issue for 23 years, told The Lincolnite: “It’s just amazing. I am just a guy who stands on the High Street who sells a magazine but I have some genuine caring friends.”
He continued: “People say I should not blame myself for my leg but I do. I used to take drugs when I was younger and it has killed off my leg. I just want to get through the surgery now.
“I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are all so so kind, I love you all.”