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Register > Register > Clare Cooper (1960 - 1996)

Clare Cooper (1960 - 1996)

"She did a lot for the RGS, and she was incredibly happy doing all of it but she is one of that band of unacknowledged (largely) women who just make things happen.”
16 Nov 2023
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End of term Showcase
End of term Showcase

Clare Cooper, widow of Neil Cooper MBE, the former Head of Classics and mother of a former Head Boy, John Cooper of the John Cooper Award set up after his death in 1981, died on 28th October 2023.

We at RGS are delighted to share daughter Rachel Cooper’s memories of Clare’s own relationship with the school.

“I guess it started when Dad was housemaster at Uplyme from 1964 - 1973.  Mum being a surrogate mother in various ways to the boarders – from a disastrous haircut in the days when hair had to be off the collar, to chatting gently to someone who she found with a bottle of pills contemplating taking them all because he couldn’t see any way forward.

"She stepped in when there was a sudden gap in the Physics Department in the late 1960s and had fond memories of a particularly bright class of Year 7s who used to queue up all through break time waiting to be let into their physics lesson.  She was aware that they all had their own specialisms, and unlike many teachers of that era, wasn’t threatened by their knowledge, but got them to share it, and teach each other. 

"One mother took her to task at Parents Evening saying her son had a temperature of 102 but was insisting he had to go to school, “Mrs Cooper needs me”.   The pictures are from an end of term showcase, completely unknown in those days – she’d asked them if they wanted to show their parents what they’d been working on and the answer was a resounding yes!  The one thing I remember was a football wrapped in foil which measured the force of a kick, pretty impressive physics for a group of 12-year olds (we didn’t think that was quite fair when we weren’t allowed to play with balls in the house).

"Another thing that started at Uplyme was the costume making. She loved working alongside Dennis Smith who would have these artistic visions and Mum would totally immerse herself into turning them into reality, with her team that she built around her, a band of women all making costumes for so many performances.  Little baskets became bonnets for the Gilbert and Sullivan little girls, bowls of red dye were thrown to create the bloodied costume for Medea, and as for sourcing all the feathers for an amazing cape for Montezuma, she maintained that she had forgotten I was in the back of the car when she stopped to pick up a squashed pheasant on the country lanes of Bucks.  She wasn’t responsible for all the decisions – I know of an OW relatively recently someone was bemoaning his Ariel costume, which was a glittery silver bodysuit. I remember that and the discussions around it, it wasn’t to her taste, but she knew she wasn’t artistic director, just the translator. 

"When John was at the school, she became a leading light in the PTA, organising Cheese & Wine evenings, and other fundraising affairs. Part of the team that bought a minibus I think amongst other things, and organised all the catering and refreshments for the first RGS show. She was a Parent Governor too.

"She even did the catering for a number of CCF camps in the 1980s.

"She did a lot for the RGS, and she was incredibly happy doing all of it but she is one of that band of unacknowledged (largely) women who just make things happen and as I say, I wanted to record it somewhere.”

Clare Cooper, 26 January 1937 - 28th October 2023

Her funeral will be held on 17th November at 3pm at Holy Trinity Minchinhampton, Bell Lane, Minchinhampton, GL6 9BP (parking is behind the church, adjacent to the common. Drive up Bell Lane and turn right in front of the school. Continue to car park).

After the service you are all welcome to join us in the Porch Room at the church.

We understand that many who wish to celebrate Clare's life may not be able to travel. The funeral will be streamed live and you can be with us online at Holy Trinity Church Minchinhampton - https://www.youtube.com/@holytrinitychurchminchinha6071/featured

We have asked for family flowers only but donations for WaterAid would be welcome and can be made online at www.fredstevens.co.uk

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