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Obituary – Michael Cooper (C1 1951-53)

Michael joined C1 in 1951 where he developed a lifelong love of learning and independent thinking. He especially relished being encouraged to bike around the county on birdwatching expeditions, and indeed spent his final months happily rediscovering this part of Wiltshire. Mike always regretted that he had not been able to spend longer at Marlborough, but following family tradition he entered Britannia Royal Naval College aged 16 where he won the Queen’s telescope and after serving on surface ships transferred to submarines. Mike served in cramped pre-nuclear boats dripping with condensation, involved in exercises shadowing Russian submarines.  A secondment to the Royal Canadian Navy took him under the ice for weeks at a time but the close friendships formed in those boats lasted for the next 60 years.

In 1968 he retrained and joined the maritime law firm of Ince and Co where his unconventional mix of skills including fluent Spanish contributed greatly to the success of the firm and kept him in touch with the maritime world. Mike’s sense of humour and care for his colleagues, from tea-lady to senior partner, made him a popular figure and he headed up some ground-breaking cases. One concerned a container ship on her maiden voyage which broke in half in a storm off the coast of South Africa when the crew were astonished to see the bow of their own ship coming towards them. Mike became a partner in 1973 and Managing Partner in 1992, when he helped to modernise the firm without letting it lose its family feel.

In retirement, Mike much enjoyed writing route notes for a walking travel company which took him across Europe from the Azores to Bulgaria usually accompanied by his wife Carys. Both felt this hardly constituted work, just enormous fun. His quirky sense of humour wrote itself into the notes providing moments of light relief for weary walkers.

His lifelong Christian beliefs and high principles, laid down during his time at Marlborough, were the template for his life. Like his ancestor William Tyndale who translated the Bible into English Mike was a devoted churchman who served his local church in myriad ways, not least the creation of an award-winning garden.  As a liveryman of the Weavers Company he derived great satisfaction from his role of governor to a school in a deprived area of London.

Mike and Carys shared a love of hill-walking and were never happier than when at their cottage in the Rhinog mountains of Snowdonia, while most other family holidays contained a ‘wet’ element involving boats.

Mildly eccentric, Mike was immensely resourceful and became an excellent cook. His approach to life blended the conventional with the unexpected.  An affectionate and thoughtful man, his own and his children’s friends and his many godchildren recall him as kind and generous, adventurous and hugely fun-loving.  He is survived by Carys and their two daughters, Alex a Physiotherapist and Anna a Behaviour Analyst, and two granddaughters.


A further obituary can be read in The Telegraph.