Hackney bids farewell to 'flamboyant' priest Gualter de Mello who died in Brazil
PUBLISHED: 10:43 12 September 2016 | UPDATED: 13:45 12 September 2016
Hackney stalwart Rev Gualter de Mello MBE has died, leaving behind an "amazing legacy" of community groups he helped found.
Gualter organised countless fixtures for the elderly including a choir, lunch club, outings, holidays and a monthly “Christmas dinner” – “because it was too good to only have once a year”.
He also founded an annual Shrove Tuesday pancake race on Well Street Common, playgroup, under-fives club, play schemes and youth club.
And his Friends Anonymous Service was set up after an elderly woman was found dead in her flat at Christmas.
The half-Brazilian half-Scot moved to Hackney in 1962 as curate of St John of Jerusalem Church.
He lived in Prideaux House, in Church Crescent, South Hackney, which had been set up by Rev Tubby Clayton as part of his Toc H movement as a hostel for young men.
Clayton had founded Toc H after the First World War to strengthen community bonds, and to house men who moved to cities for employment.
Gualter went on to become curate of Prideaux House to be closer to the community.
Jonnie Andrews, 73, first met Gualter when she was a councillor in 1972.
She said: “He left an amazing legacy and he was a good friend to a lot of people in the area.
“He was someone you could always turn to and he made you feel you were the only person there at the time.
“He was very flamboyant. He had a good sense of humour. He loved life and he loved people.
“He always had a little twinkle in his eye when he was up to his tricks tormenting you.
“He always remember birthdays and anniversaries. He was always there for people. He did a lot of good work in the area for so many years.”
Gualter was given an MBE in the 1990s for his charity work.
He returned to Brazil to be with his family three years ago when he was in ill health, and died aged 82 on August 24 of a heart attack.
A memorial service for Rev de Mello will be held on October 7 at 2.30pm in St John of Jerusalem Church, Lauriston Road, South Hackney.