Birmingham's army of Big Issue sellers marked the first anniversary of two of their number being stabbed to death with a poignant ceremony.
Ian Watson-Gladwish, aged 31 , and Wayne Busst, 32, were killed on a busy city centre street on January 11 last year by paranoid schizophrenic John Ward.
Exactly a year after the horrific event, the men’s families, fellow Big Issue vendors, members of the public and police officers gathered at the spot where it happened.
It was also revealed that since the deaths, over £5,000 has been raised in their memories.
Ward first plunged a knife into Wayne and then attacked Ian.
Shoppers and office workers leaving for the day tried desperately to help the two men but they died of their injuries.
During Saturday’s ceremony people raised a toast to Ian and Wayne and bouquets of flowers were also placed in the spot where it happened.
Becky Mitchell, Big Issue manager for the West Midlands, said the £5,000 had been raised by donations from members of the public and also staff doing fund-raising events, including sky-diving.
The money will be poured back into helping Big Issue sellers rebuild their lives by finding employment and permanent accommodation.
A plaque has also been made in memory of the two men, paid for by Big Issue sellers out of “tips” shoppers give them when buying the magazine.
Although the plaque has been made, discussions are ongoing with the city council and local shops to decide where it will be placed.
Miss Mitchell said: “I’ve been dreading the first anniversary for weeks and weeks because it’s been a very difficult year for us all. Wayne and Ian were two of the nicest men you could meet – no-one had anything bad to say about them and their deaths hit everyone hard.
“But today, although it’s been very sad, has also been a celebration of their lives with a toast to their memory.”
Fellow Big Issue seller of two years, Ollie Bain, aged 34, said the murders nearly drove him to quit being a vendor himself.
“I knew Ian well, but not Wayne so much, and I can’t believe it’s been a year since they died,” he said.
“It’s been a really tough year and after that, a lot of vendors quit and I even considered it myself.
“People don’t realise how dangerous it can be being a Big Issue vendor with people shouting ‘get a job’ at you and making threats.
“But I decided to stick with it because the chances of something like that happening again are remote.”
Last October, Ward, 23, pleaded guilty to two charges of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
He was handed a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 12 years and ordered to serve his sentence at Ashworth pyschiatric hospital in Merseryside.
Ward had only arrived in Birmingham the night before he killed Ian and Wayne, who made the fatal mistake of befriending him after he got off the train.
The court heard he killed the two men fuelled by heroin, alcohol and his mental illness.
At any one time there are between 15 and 30 Big Issue sellers in Birmingham.
To be a vendor they have to be classed as being “vulnerably housed”, which includes living in hostels, sleeping on friends’ floors or living rough.