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Obituary: Janet Cooper – ‘Inspirational’ Brockenhurst College physics tutor

LONGSTANDING former Brockenhurst College physics tutor and Milford resident Janet Cooper has died at the age of 88.

A popular and long-serving member of the Bournemouth Symphony Choir, Janet is remembered as an “inspirational teacher” who touched the lives of many young people during her lengthy career.

She was born in Harrow in 1935 to Thomas and Grace Cooper, who were both in their 40s when they became first-time parents. Academic and hardworking, Janet studied physics at Exeter University, graduating in 1958 at a time when few women studied the subject.

Janet Cooper
Janet Cooper

She then joined Smiths Aircraft Instruments in Cheltenham, becoming section head in 1963.

The following year she was elected to the Institute of Physics. Keen to be closer to her aging parents, Janet moved to the New Forest in 1965, taking a post as a physics teacher at Brockenhurst College.

Following the death of both her parents, she moved to Holly Gardens in Milford in 1969, where she remained until shortly before her death.

Janet became Head of the Department of Applied Physics in 1971 and continued at Brockenhurst College as a senior turor until she retired in 2000. Over the years she travelled extensively, both on college trips and independently, visiting Greece, Italy, Lebanon, The Azores, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Janet never married but was a proud godmother to Amanda, and had a number of longstanding friends including Beryl Reid who she met in Cheltenham and remained in touch with for the rest of her life.

She was actively involved in the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, joining in 1966, where she sang Alto. As part of the chorus, she enjoyed some incredible experiences, including performing on the World Showcase stage at Disney World’s Epcot in Florida.

In retirement, Janet began an Open University Art degree and read extensively on a wide range of subjects. Her cat Millie was a constant companion.

Fiercely independent, Janet rarely asked for help, even when arthritis in her hip caused a lot of pain.

Her longstanding friend and neighbour Andrew Wilson said: “In 2021 she was determined to be looked after at home and the Flame Lily Care team stepped in. She enjoyed their frequent visits and they had some great discussions with the young carers when they visited.”

Despite being confined to bed, Janet continued to have a positive outlook and surrounded herself with music and the books she loved.

Andrew added: “She was a great procrastinator with even important things, and would like to fully consider something before engaging with it. She had her own mind and could only be persuaded by a reasoned argument, and then only the next day when she had fully considered the pros and cons.”

Janet died at Lymington Hospital on 23rd April and a funeral service has been held.

Andrew said: “Despite Janet not having any next of kin, the service was well attended by over 30 people, encompassing friends and former colleagues from the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Brockenhurst College and Holly Gardens where she lived for 54 years.

“Having over a dozen members of the chorus proved a real joy when they sang Hubert Parry's hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.”

Anyone wishing to donate in Janet’s memory can give to for Bournemouth Symphony Chorus Turner Fund, which supports young singers.

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