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‘He would cheer you up on your worst day’: tributes paid to 'Fast Eddy'
Tributes have been pouring in for a local homeless man who died last week, while two pubs raise money to fund his funeral.
The Crown and the Walnut Tree, both in High Road, Leytonstone, are asking their regulars to put their hands in their pockets to make sure much-loved homeless man ‘Fast Eddy’, gets a good send off after he passed away last week.
Edward Kuwateedza was 54 when he died of a stroke sleeping in a car park behind the Walnut Tree pub on Wednesday last week.
Until last year, Mr Kuwateedza had been living for 13 years in a garage behind The Crown where he became “part of the family”, according to landlady Helena Gannon.
Mrs Gannon, 41, met Mr Kuwateedza when he did some glass collecting at the pub.
When he did not have anywhere to go home to, Mrs Gannon offered him a sofa in the garage behind the pub, where Mr Kuwateedza stayed and became part of their family life.
She said: “I’m in pieces, we’re all in pieces. My boys are devastated because he was like our family.”
Mrs Gannon’s 16-year-old son, Gary, who grew up at The Crown while Mr Kuwateedza was there, said in a tribute to ‘Fast Eddy’ on his mother’s Facebook page: “Very sad to hear someone who always made you happy has left us.”
A woman who had visited the pub one weekend on a trip from Australia wrote: “I only met this guy once and he made the whole weekend ! RIP”
Mr Kuwateedza would help out at the pub and in return Mrs Gannon gave him somewhere to stay and her lodgers kept him in hot meals.
Mrs Gannon said: “He even spent Christmas with us. He was part of our whole family. When I go back to Ireland everyone asks after him.
“He just had a smile that would light up your day. You couldn’t help but love him.”
Mrs Gannon has fond memories of when she threw a birthday party for Mr Kuwateedza’s 50th at the pub.
Mr Kuwateedza was given a cigarette lighter and some money by the regulars.
She said: “People came from all over for it and it was the best day of his life. He was so happy and he said, ‘I can’t believe it, this is the first birthday party I’ve had’.”
Mrs Gannon’s phone has been ringing off the hook since Mr Kuwateedza died with people wanting to pay tribute to him and pay their condolences.
She said: “It shows the kind of person he was. I hope as many people as this fuss over me!”
When Mrs Gannon moved on to run another pub out of the area Mr Kuwateedza became a regular at the Walnut Tree, where duty manager Billy Rowlands, 24, described him as “part of the furniture” and “one of those characters.”
Both pubs are now running collections to pay for Mr Kuwateedza’s funeral.
The Walnut Tree estimated they had collected £300 so far and the Crown say their regualrs are putting in £10 each.
The coroner is currently trying to contact Mr Kuwateedza’s family members so there is no date for a service yet but Mrs Gannon is hoping she will be able to say a few words at the ceremony to say goodbye to a dear friend.