Obituary: Peter Cooper – well-known founder of Lymington removals firm and ‘Mr Rotary’
PETER Cooper, well-known director of the Lymington removal company which bears his name and who was “unstinting” in his work for the community until his final days, has died aged 81.
He was also known as “Mr Rotary”, which he joined in 1985, honoured with a Paul Harris award in 2005 and, in recognition of his long service, presented with the prestigious Sapphire Pin in 2019.
Born on the weirs in Brockenhurst in 1941 to Albert and Annie Cooper, Peter was the eldest of two children, with Maureen his sister six years younger. The family moved to Lymington and Peter went to school at Lymington Catholic School, and then on to Brockenhurst Secondary Modern age 12 where he excelled in woodwork.
On leaving school aged 16, he was offered an apprenticeship by the Isted family who owned Ford’s House Furnishers and Removal Company, taken on as a cabinet maker and furniture repairer, making wooden pelmets and easing doors for new carpets. He was given day release to attend the College of Art in Southampton for his City & Guilds. Peter’s apprenticeship took five years and within this time he passed both intermediate and final exams.
At 17 Peter earned extra money building and racing stock cars, working his way from white-roof novice to red-top star driver. He later achieved second place in the world championship. As a star, he was paid £5 start money plus £5 per race with a reward of £50 for first prize in the final.
Once Peter completed his apprenticeship, he was taken on at Ford’s permanently as a restorer, offered 10 shillings a week which later increased to £13.10d as he was helping with removals.
During his time at Ford’s, Peter met Mike Corfield and later, together with Mike’s wife Ann, started Corfield Restoration at Lymington High Street. After starting at Corfield’s, Peter met wife Jill, whom he married in September 1971 at St Thomas’s Church. Jill and Peter had two children, Emma, and James, and he was a very proud husband and father. Peter parted company with Mike in December 1986.
In January 1987 Peter and Jill bought Gordleton Park and Peter Cooper Ltd was born. He started with a second hand Luton van, and the business has now grown to include an extensive fleet of vehicles and a 600-container warehouse.
Peter was known for his abundant generosity and his can-do attitude to community work. Until his last days, Peter played an active role in organising charity events with Rotary as chair of the ‘Ways and Means’ committee and oversaw health and safety for events throughout the year.
In 1993 he was given the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee award for services to the community.
Former Lymington mayor Anne Corbridge said Peter’s work for the community was “unstinting” and through Rotary he was the “mainstay” in so many events which contributed funds for charities.
“More than anything he was kind, thoughtful and very wise,” she said. “Nothing was ever too much trouble. Along with so many others I will miss him dearly, this is a sad time not only for his family but also for Lymington.”
President of Rotary Club of Lymington, Roger Ling, said it would be hard to imagine Rotary without ‘Mr Rotary’: “Thank you Peter for your treasured support to me. I know that many Rotarians will reflect upon numerous adventures in Rotary with Peter down the years gone by.
“You will always be remembered.”