In Memory of Peter Dolan

We were deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of one our vendors, Pete Dolan. Pete was extremely popular and will be missed by so many. Birmingham Area Service Broker, Tom Belte, pays tribute to Pete.

This is an image of Pete a few days before Christmas last year; he received a donation of a vest, shaver and some long johns along with a cup of tea and a mince pie. He was very fond of tea and would enjoy sitting in the office with a cuppa when he could.

I have worked with Peter for just over 5 years now, I badged him up just after he came back from the states and from then on he was one of the vendors I always referred to when discussing The Big Issue and it’s benefits to other people. Pete simply was an enigmatic and incredible type of person, his conversation was always of interest and his beliefs on the world was of intellect and understanding. He was also, even though I shouldn’t have one, my favourite vendor and I am very saddened to know he has passed away.

I always looked at him as our very own ‘Forrest Gump’ in some respects. He lived such a diverse life, spending time in the American Navy, working in Brooklyn New York on the Boardwalk at Coney Island, travelling and living all over America and Europe, working in various fast food places, a bus conductor in England, completing a BA in America also, speaking various languages, a prep school education, friends in high places in France, a poetical writer, as well as a good friend to the homeless community in Birmingham. I asked him once if he would be interested in writing his life down, he decided against it for personal reasons but I still think it would have been a great read and life story.

I always loved how eloquent he was and his fanatical understanding of the immigration system which he took great pride in with knowing at times the minutest details. He would use the internet in the library to keep up to date with foreign policy and then come back to us in the morning with his findings, relating this then to economy and governmental policy.

I do quite a lot of talks at various places and run open days, the first question I get asked when I talk about vendors is “who is that man that vends in Solihull?” so he was also incredibly popular with the general public also. We phoned round local services yesterday and ex members of staff; it was very emotional for all that heard the news.

In 2010 Pete participated in a local Ramadan flash mob; it’s the Pete I will continue to remember now he has gone, a long with all the funny stories he had and his unique but gleaming character.

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