We are very happy to announce that Bournemouth vendor Bill is moving on to a new career as a brewery tour guide at Southbourne Ales! (Photo: Bournemouth Daily Echo).
A former British Army medic, Bill spent several months living in a cave and then walking along the coast with his dog Chloe before becoming part of the Big Issue family.
"For four years I have been working with The Big Issue speaking to students at Bournemouth University about my story to tell them a bit more about homelessness. I’ve also given speeches ahead of the Big Issue Foundation’s Night Walk and Sleep Out events. The feedback we get is terrific as I always try to give plenty of information without snowing the students under, and they tend to engage with it and have plenty of questions.
It has certainly been excellent preparation for the job at Southbourne Ales, which I started on Good Friday, and has been going really well. I’ve always been into real ale when I used to run a pub on the Isle of Grain in Kent – we had six different beers on the bar over 18 months and I only repeated one due to customer demand. I’ll be on my pitch until April 24 while giving tours Wednesday to Sunday so it is a seven-day working week at the moment. I’ve brought leaflets from Southbourne to my pitch so hopefully I’ll see a few of my regulars down there for a tour.
My customers have been really supportive and I’ve already had 12 good luck cards. I want to take this opportunity to thank them and The Big Issue for all the support over the past six years – I don’t think I could have done this without them."
You can read more about his story here.
Kirsten Thomson, Big Issue team leader for Bournemouth, said: “We are extremely proud of Bill who has gained employment as the Brewery Tour Guide at Southbourne Ales. He has been such an active member of our Big Issue community, helping us raise awareness in the local area and supporting us with a variety of fundraising activities.
“He has participated in many talks and events to spread the word about The Big Issue and Big Issue Foundation. We will miss Bill but wish him all the best with in his next endeavour.” “I want to express my gratitude to The Big Issue and the team here – it’s a good group and they have really taken me to their hearts. I’m ho ping this new job will see me through to retirement.”
Southbourne Ales owner Jennifer Tingay has been suitably impressed with his efforts so far. She told The Big Issue: “I have got to know him and heard a bit of his background and hiring him just seemed to be the perfect thing for both him and us. He’s a confident public speaker, he’s knowledgeable about the industry and he’s got a really positive outlook so it is great to be able to give him this opportunity to progress.”