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Life of keen cyclist celebrated as his coffin is laid out in cafe he owned

PUBLISHED: 20:19 04 April 2019 | UPDATED: 20:19 04 April 2019

Cliff Matthews' widow Anna, right, with their children, Agnes, seven, front left; Elizabeth, 17, back left (in yellow); Alicia Mattcroft, back centre; Seren, 13, third right; and Alexander, 14; with close family friend Min Grout, by Cliff's coffin in the teepee inside La Tour Cycle Café at the celebration of his life. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Cliff Matthews' widow Anna, right, with their children, Agnes, seven, front left; Elizabeth, 17, back left (in yellow); Alicia Mattcroft, back centre; Seren, 13, third right; and Alexander, 14; with close family friend Min Grout, by Cliff's coffin in the teepee inside La Tour Cycle Café at the celebration of his life. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

The life of a popular Ipswich cafe owner has been celebrated at a party which saw his friends and family write farewell messages on his coffin to break the taboo of talking about death.

Cliff Matthews' daughter Seren, 13, and close family friend, Min Grout, write a message on his coffin in the teepee inside La Tour Cycle Café at the celebration of his life. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCliff Matthews' daughter Seren, 13, and close family friend, Min Grout, write a message on his coffin in the teepee inside La Tour Cycle Café at the celebration of his life. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Cliff Matthews’ coffin lay inside a teepee in La Tour Cycle Cafe, the business he and his wife Anna founded on Ipswich waterfront, while people milled about, sharing their favourite stories about the passionate cyclist and committee member at the Wolsey Road Club where he was a member of for years.

There was a mixture of smiles and tears as people shared memories of Mr Matthews, who sadly died of cancer on March 22.

Anna said: “There are loads of people here and even though not everyone knew Cliff it’s lovely to see as for us it is a celebration of his life and it’s a celebration of Ipswich.

“I think there is a certain taboo about death and we were fortunate enough as a family that we were able to plan for Cliff to die at home surrounded by us all.

One of the messages on the coffin at the celebration of Cliff Matthews' life. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOne of the messages on the coffin at the celebration of Cliff Matthews' life. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“I know that I was nervous about how we would navigate Cliff’s death as a family and that’s why I think it is so important to talk about death.

“My children have been involved in the whole process and I am hoping that long term that is going to mean that we have caused less internal damage to all of us.

“Cliff had said to me, ‘You have to have a party at the cafe’. I’m not sure he thought it would be like this, but he would have though it was brilliant.

“For Cliff, if anything was good, it was brilliant and that’s what he would have thought this is.

Seren Matthews, 13, with her brother, Alexander, 14, and family friend Min Grout, write messages on Cliff Matthews' coffin in the teepee inside La Tour Cycle Café at the celebration of his life. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSeren Matthews, 13, with her brother, Alexander, 14, and family friend Min Grout, write messages on Cliff Matthews' coffin in the teepee inside La Tour Cycle Café at the celebration of his life. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“I know he would have been very proud of his children and the way they have taken the past couple of weeks.”

The party also saw musicians entertain the crowd with lively tunes.

A funeral service and burial at the church of St Mary, Nettlestead, west of Claydon, will take place on Friday, April 5, with a cycle procession from Mr Matthews’ home before a celebration at a friend’s barn.

Karen Eaton who was on the committee of the Wolsey Road Club alongside Mr Matthews said: “It has been really nice meeting up with people and talking about our favourite memories of Cliff.

Sisters Elizabeth Matthews, left, 17, and Seren, 13, write messages on their dad's, Cliff Matthews, coffin in the teepee inside La Tour Cycle Café at the celebration of his life. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSisters Elizabeth Matthews, left, 17, and Seren, 13, write messages on their dad's, Cliff Matthews, coffin in the teepee inside La Tour Cycle Café at the celebration of his life. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“Whilst it’s quite sad, it is nice to remember him with a smile on our faces.

“This party is perfect for his character. I know he would have loved this.”

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