A Hungarian homeless man died recently of leukemia in England. István Kakas became widely known and respected when he received an award from the mayor of Bath for a life-saving act of heroism.
Little information is known about István’s early life, but he previously told Big Issue newspaper that he served in the military and later worked as a cook under star chefs Gordon Ramsay and Michael Caines.
He moved to Bath, a town next to Bristol, and became a well-respected member of the community. He used to sell newspapers on a bridge over river Avon. According to a local newspaper, Kakas took it upon himself to clean the bridge and decorate the banister with flowers.
But the real acknowledgments came when Kakas rescued a six-year-old girl and her father from the river in 2014. He described the incident in an earlier interview: “It was just a normal Sunday morning and then I heard a high-pitched scream. I looked around and could see nothing and then I spotted this little pink helmet in the water.”
The girl’s father jumped in the river but they were unable to get back out. Thinking quickly, Kakas grabbed a broom, ran over to the other side of the bridge and used it to pull them up.
Kakas received the much-coveted Mayor’s Citizen Award a few months later from then-Bath Mayor Malcolm Lees.
Kakas died recently at the age of 52 following a battle with leukemia. István was a churchgoer and St Matthew’s Church held the funeral ceremony free of cost. A fundraising campaign in Kakas’ memory has raised enough money to cover his cremation and a planned tribute plaque on the bridge where he sold the magazine.