York raises £3,000 in three days to give much-loved Big Issue seller a proper funeral

A single red rose left as a tribute to Pete where he used to stand and sell the Big Issue, outside Marks and Spencer on Parliament Street. Photograph: Richard McDougall
3 Dec 2016 @ 5.36 pm
| News

Three days ago it looked like he might be given the most basic of funerals.

But in that short time, generous York people have donated more than £3,000 to ensure Pete Toulson is granted a fitting send-off.

As we reported on Thursday, Pete was a familiar face to countless hundreds of residents as the man who sold the Big Issue outside Marks and Spencer.

News of his death caused great shock and sadness. And adding to the sense of grief was the knowledge that neither Pete nor his partner Karen had any money for a funeral.

Pete’s friends Julie and John McGall set up a Just Giving page in the hope of raising £3K towards the funeral expenses.

By Saturday morning they had reached their target. And by 5pm that evening the total had reached £3,360 from 214 donors.

Amazing response

Pete Toulson. Photograph: John McGall
Pete Toulson. Photograph: John McGall

Julie said it would have meant a lot to Pete. She posted on Facebook:

Latest news is that his funeral fund is at over £3,000 and still rising.

He would be overwhelmed by your kindness as are John and I. Thank you all.

The response to the appeal has been heartwarming.

Singer Rebecca Newman, the ‘people’s soprano’ whose first album went to number one in the official UK classical albums chart, said she will sing at Pete’s funeral.

“He often ‘watched’ my busking equipment when I sang in York centre. He always thought I would make it big and was so pleased to see when things worked out for me,” she posted. “So sad.”

Glenn Haigh said: “I am heartened by how many people were touched by the kindness of Pete. Some of your responses have been amazing.”

And Joan Taylor added: “Goes to show a warm heart and cheery smile are worth so much.”