A Big issue seller who met his future wife when he gave her his last 50p for her electricity meter said it’s still “the best money he every spent”.
Jack Richardson, 41, asked Toni Osborne, 51, for change – but she then broke down in tears, and confessed she had no money left.
So Jack turned the tables and gave her 50p instead – and it was the start of a special friendship.
Jack was given his Big Issue patch at the same spot they’d first met, and she offered him a spare room in her home.
The pair quickly fell for each other, and he got down on one knee at the site where it first began to ask Toni to be his wife in December 2015.
Although they planned a cheap registry office wedding, the pair were overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers, and they ended up celebrating in style.
Still as in love as ever, the couple spoke to Real Fix, a podcast about extraordinary true stories.
“I just saw Jack’s homelessness not as who he was, but where he was at when I met him,” Toni said.
“It wasn’t a reflection of him as a person.
“Speaking to him was the best thing I ever did.”
Hard-up Jack was begging on the streets of Bristol in 2013 when he asked Toni for some spare cash.
She could not afford electricity at the time and broke down in tears – so Jack gave her 50p for the meter.
“Crying women are like kryptonite to me,” Jack told episode two of the podcast, which features people telling their own stories, in their own words.
“I just gave her money to stop her crying – and then she started crying even more!”
Weeks later Toni bumped into Jack again, and he told her he’d got his Big Issue badge, allowing him to sell the magazine.
The year passed by, with Jack and Toni stopping to chat every fortnight as she passed his patch for an appointment.
As Christmas 2014 approached, Jack, who had been sleeping in an underground car park, was forced to move on when the car park was boarded up.
Chatting to Toni on one of their fortnightly meetings, Jack mentioned his predicament and she offered to put him up in her flat.
“I wouldn’t recommend to everybody to take a homeless stranger in!” Toni joked, when asked what made her make the leap to offer for Jack to move in with her.
“But I felt drawn to him. There was something about him that felt safe.”
Toni’s instincts turned out to be right, and after that, the couple fell in love ‘insanely quickly’.
Jack proposed in December 2015, by getting down on one knee at his Big Issue pitch – the site where it all began – and asking Toni to marry him.
They were going to ‘grab a couple of randoms off the street as witnesses’.
But when Jack’s customers found out, they clubbed together and dozens of locals donated everything they needed for a big white wedding, in March 2016.
“By the end of it, we had enough left over to buy a new bed, a new cooker – and a new pair of glasses each!” Jack said.
Four years on, the couple are more in love than ever.
Speaking of the impact their story has had, Toni said: “People have said to us it’s changed their minds and attitudes towards homeless people.
“That’s hugely reassuring.”
Jack, who has previously lived up and down the UK, said: “This is the first time I’ve ever truly felt stable, grounded, rooted.
“Toni means so much to me – my entire life did a 180 that day.
“I couldn’t have had any conception of that day and how much of a difference that one choice would make.
“It was the best 50p I’ve ever spent in my life!”