Dozens expected to say goodbye to colourful cook Wally Ireland of Sudbury - the man behind Wally’s Cafe

Wally Ireland outside 'Wally's Cafe' in Acton

Wally Ireland outside 'Wally's Cafe' in Acton - Credit: Collects

His culinary creations have sustained everyone from firefighters seeking a welcome break between calls to patients at one of London’s top teaching hospitals.

Wally Ireland cooking up crispy finger lickin good breakfasts at Wally's Cafe in 2002.

Wally Ireland cooking up crispy finger lickin good breakfasts at Wally's Cafe in 2002.

But colourful Suffolk character Wally Ireland, who died recently at the age of 84, will probably be best remembered for the “legendary” cooked breakfasts he served up in his latter years at the café he created out of a shed on an industrial estate in Acton.

Mr Ireland, from Sudbury, only opened the premises as a base for his outside catering firm but such was the popularity of his cooking and warm welcome, he turned it into a thriving café, which at its height was serving two sittings of Sunday lunch to dozens of appreciative diners. He only hung up his apron when ill health forced him to retire at the age of 80.

Many of Mr Ireland’s friends and customers are expected to attend his funeral this afternoon at Three Counties Crematorium in Braintree, where close friend, raconteur and author Charlie Haylock will read a tribute.

Born in 1930, Mr Ireland moved from London to Lamarsh near Sudbury at the outbreak of the Second World War, with his nine siblings, parents and grandparents. He married Betty in 1958 and eventually had three children, Dean, Jane and Lloyd.

His interest in food began at the age of 18 when he was conscripted to national service, serving in Hong Kong and Cyprus as part of the catering corps.

During his working life, he ran the kitchen at Walnuttree Hospital in Sudbury, catered at the former CAV factory and opened a popular café, The Bongo, in North Street. At the pinnacle of his career, he managed the catering department at the prestigious Guy’s Hospital in London.

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Mr Ireland’s son, Dean, said his father would be remembered as a “slightly off the wall” Suffolk character.

He recalled: “He had friends from when he was in his teens and was still making new ones when he started going on bus tours after he ‘retired’ at the age of 80.

“The breakfasts at Wally’s Café were popular with a diverse range of people from those coming home early in the morning with a hangover to actors doing re-enactments at Kentwell Hall and trainees from Hendon Police College who often did their training in the area.

“Passers by could have been mistaken for thinking the café was on fire on numerous occasions because the local fire crews would often park up their engines and call in for a feed.

“As well as the catering, dad was also a skilled gardener and he was allowed to create a roof garden at his home at Guy’s Hospital close to London Bridge, which regularly featured on television.”

Mr Ireland’s funeral is at 3pm.