Wall tribute planned for Queen's Crescent shopkeeper Rak

Crowdfunding begins for 'living wall'

Monday, 28th February — By Ollie Cox


Dipti Patel at the wall which could be transformed in her husband’s memory

A POLLUTION-busting living wall in memory of a popular Queen’s Crescent shopkeeper is planned to mark the anniversary of his death.

Rak Patel, who ran Malden Wines in Malden Road, died of cancer last year. He was 55.

Now, friends and customers of Mr Patel plan to create a lasting memorial to a man who was known as the crescent’s favourite “agony uncle” – and whose role was so much more than serving customers, friends say.

Organiser Lynn Whiting told the New Journal Mr Patel’s widow, Dipti, wished to celebrate her husband’s life with something living, to create a place “where people could stop, breathe and be kind to one another”.


She said: “Rak was everything that is beautiful and lovely in a world that isn’t so. I had a friend who was very fond of alcohol. Rak once found him on the road. He picked him up, sat him down and called an ambulance. After this he wouldn’t supply him with alcohol.”

Mr Patel moved to London from India in 1991 and settled in Queen’s Crescent where his gentle manner and wisdom made him hugely popular.

Rak Patel and his shop

The planned monument will consist of pockets of plants that come together to cover the wall of his shop – and will be a place for calm reflection with the added benefit of helping to reduce pollution, Ms Whiting said.

She added that they hope the wall will serve as a place to help those who struggle with mental illness issues that Rak supported, giving them their own green space.

She said: “We want it to reflect how he listened to people’s troubles and gave them his time, no matter who they were.”

Plans include the Patel family taking charge of what organisers say is a gift to them, by ensuring the plants are well watered and looked after.

At Mr Patel’s funeral last year, over 200 people turned out – and Ms Whiting hopes they will come together again to honour the memory of a man who meant so much to so many.

She added: “I don’t want anybody to feel excluded, because it is a community project from a man who cared so much about the community and gave up so much of his time and patience.”

To pay for the wall, organisers are distributing leaflets around the area and crowdfunding.

Anyone is welcome to go to Malden Wines at 141 Malden Road and donate money to help celebrate Mr Patel’s life.

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