The people of Holmfirth have taken Vasile Calin to their hearts.
And on Wednesday they showed the true spirit of Christmas when they surprised him with hampers of gifts and a basket packed with sweets.
The 30-year-old Romanian is a familiar figure in the village, dancing, singing and smiling as he sells copies of the Big Issue. Originally from Bucharest, he travels from Leeds to his pitch. His wife Elena also sells the magazine.
“He has just cheered the heart of the Holmfirth community,” said Lorraine Waller, manager at Cornerstone Estate Agents who, with colleague Jodie Lawson, put out an appeal for gifts on Facebook.
“The response was unbelievable. Everybody started coming into our office with donations. We’ve had clothing, cleaning products, selection boxes, cakes, vouchers for lunches, even cash.”
Vasile has three children back home in Bucharest, two girls aged 11 and six, and a seven-year-old boy, who live with his mother.
“He brings happiness to everybody in the village,” said Lorraine. “Everybody loves him.”
Locals joined with Cornerstone staff for Vasile’s surprise presentation and Lorraine said: “He came in singing Merry Christmas to us all, shaking hands.
“He didn’t even see his gifts. Then he was shocked. It was a fabulous moment, just spectacular.”