Ipswich: Crowds gather to pay tribute to hugely popular pub manager

Scores of mourners wore bright Hawaiian shirts to celebrate the life of one of Ipswich’s most colourful personalities.

Hugely popular pub manager Adrian Caldwell lost his battle with cancer on August 12.

The 47-year-old father-of-four, known to his friends of Biglove, was a familiar and welcoming face to thousands of revellers having run the Cock and Pye for 17 years.

And his sense of humour and warmth were reflected in the manner in which he was laid to rest.

At Mr Caldwell’s request, friends and family donned colourful shirts at his funeral, held at St Pancras Catholic Church on Thursday morning before a wake at the Cock and Pye.

Phyllis Caldwell, Adrian’s mum, told The Star of her shock when the funeral cars turned a corner and she saw the long line of friends wanting to pay their respects.

“It took my breath away,” the 78-year-old said. “The service was so beautiful and dignified.

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“I’ll miss my son so much, he was too young to go. I had the same cancer as my son, two years ago, but recovered from it. I would’ve gladly swapped places with him if I could.”

Mr Caldwell, who was brought up in Dublin, moved to Ipswich to take over the pub after living in London for a number of years.

Over the years, Mr Caldwell fought bowel, skin and stomach cancer, with the disease returning when he was in remission.

Last week’s his friends told of their sadness after his illness took hold.

His sister June, 42, thanked Adrian’s friends in Ipswich – especially his partner Aliston Brewster – for caring for him during his hardest battle.

She said: “While we knew he was sick, he got plucked from life so suddenly in the end that I didn’t have notice to travel from Ireland and be with him.

“I’m comforted and grateful his friends and loved ones in Ipswich were there every minute of that crucial journey.

“The funeral was amazing, a church crammed with colour and an after-celebration swathed in laughter – we gave him the best send off we could.

“I will miss him and think of him every day of my life.”

Seventeen-year-old Hollie Caldwell-Burns, Mr Caldwell’s daughter, said: “I knew he was loved by many, that was made clear when the funeral car turned the corner at the church and everyone was there, lined up in bright colours to pay their respect to my colourful dad.

“I only had 17 years with my dad, but they were the best a daughter could ask for.”

n What are you memories of Adrian Caldwell? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or send an e-mail to starletters@archant.co.uk

Henry McDonald, partner of June Caldwell – Adrian’s sister, said: “Despite whatever life threw at him Adrian maintained an incredible, admirable sense of humour. That legendary lust for life and love of fun left his stamp on his adopted town of Ipswich. The throng of people in Hawaiian shirts, singing “We Love You Aido We do...” while holding up the traffic is testament to that legacy.”

Adrian’s son Ryan Caldwell-Burns, 16, said: “Our dad was a once in a blue moon man. I could not and would not ask for anyone different. He was always there for us and would do anything for us.”

Partner Alison Brewster said: “Adrian and I were together for 18 months and lived together for the past year. He had a larger than life personality and was always able to cheer me up when I was having a bad day.

“In October last year we were told that his cancer was terminal and we decided to make the most of the time we had. Adrian was a true inspiration and fought so hard for so long against his cancer, never letting it get him down, he worked up until the week before he died.

“Adrian was the love of my life even though our time together was cut short. He will always hold a very special place in my heart. He always told me that he was my Guardian Angel and I know that he will be looking over me.”