John Bird was born in 1946 in Notting Hill, to a poor London family. He was homeless at the age of five, lived in an orphanage from the ages of seven to ten, and went into prison in his teenage years. He slept rough on the streets of London and served several prison sentences in his late twenties. He also got involved in Marxism and became a printer. But he was incapable of working for anyone and started his own successful printing and publishing business.
His experiences inspired him to do something for other people in his position, which led to the creation of The Big Issue in 1991. Under John's leadership, the magazine has challenged the way the Government and the general public view homelessness. As a result of the success of The Big Issue, The Big Issue Foundation was established in November 1995 to address the wider needs of homeless people.
In 1995, John Bird was awarded an MBE for services to homeless people. In 2003, he was named one of the Most Important Pioneers of the last 50 years. In 2004, he received a Scroll of Excellence from the United Nations for his international work in poverty and also won the title of a London Living Legend.
John donated a deckchair design to Deckchair Dreams in 2007.
A bird in a tree was the perfect theme for John. He lived in France a few years ago and that is why he is known as Monsieur l'Oiseau. John has drawings and photos of trees in his house and often draws trees himself. He loves parks and his favourite colour is green. He used to sleep in parks when he was homeless and sometimes has work meetings in Richmond Park.
His designer deckchair is available to buy from our online shop. All proceeds help support the Royal Parks.