Tribute to Mullion Church organist and Cornwall teacher, Colin Cooper

A retired music teacher and church organist who overcame adversity by continuing to perform even after a leg amputation, has died aged 85.

Colin Cooper had lived in Mullion, but was also formerly from Ruan Minor and had taught at Penzance and St Austell.

In 2014 he made the front page of The Packet when he took over the organ at Mullion Parish Church, despite having a leg amputated.

What was supposed to be a simple knee joint replacement the previous year, with a recovery time of seven to ten days, ended in four operations in six weeks, during which he suffered a major heart attack. and was not expected to survive the weekend. .

An infection then set in and resulted in the amputation of Colin’s leg, jeopardizing his lifelong love for the organ.

However, a retired doctor working with the Remap charity, Dr Ian Royston, designed a lift that kept him playing, and as Colin himself said: “I have to admit that the Losing a leg didn’t make much of a difference to my organ skills!”

Colin refers to the eulogy article he wrote in advance for himself, recalling, “I was reported in the local press as the one-legged church organist! ”

Her death saddened Mullion and the wider community, with her youngest son Nick saying: “The outpouring of love through messages, calls and cards has been overwhelming.”

Colin pictured in 2014 after returning to play the organ at Mullion Parish Church despite having his leg amputated

Colin was born in 1936 and grew up in Thornbury, near Bristol, the only child of Stanley and Grace Cooper.

He started playing the piano at the age of five and progressed to the organ before his feet could even reach the pedals.

He then switched entirely to the organ at the age of 15 and has never looked back.

Church officers at the Baptist Chapel the family attended were so impressed with his skills that he became assistant organist at the age of 16, and then principal organist.

After the Baccalaureate, Colin studied music at the University of Reading, where his organ tutor was Deputy Organist at Westminster Abbey and had performed at the Queen’s Coronation and Princess Margaret’s wedding.

While there, he attended Kings Road Baptist Chapel, where he met future wife Carol and her parents.

Carol then trained as a teacher at Wrexham and the couple married in April 1961, honeymooning in Cornwall.

Although they could only stay for a week, due to work commitments, they loved the area between Looe and Truro so much that they decided to apply for teaching positions in the Duchy.

Eventually their dream came true and in January 1970 they moved to Cornwall with their three children, Alison, Christopher and Nicholas, both teaching first at St Austell. It was not long before Colin was appointed organist at St John’s Methodist Chapel in St Austell.

After five years, they both changed teaching jobs, Carol going to Hayle Community School and Colin as Deputy Head of Music at Penzance Girls Grammar School.

They also moved to Ruan Minor, where Colin became a church organist for 12 years and Carol started a village playgroup.

In 1988, he was appointed organist at the parish church of Mullion and played there for 28 years.

The couple then became the grandparents of Charlotte and Georgia.

At the beginning of 2016, Carol unfortunately fell seriously ill. After a stay at the Royal Cornwall Hospital and respite care at West Cornwall Hospital and Helston Community Hospital, she died suddenly and unexpectedly on 28 September that year at Poldhu Care Home.

Son Nick had moved out two months earlier and subsequently became Colin’s registered carer. They spent five years together, before Colin died on February 21 this year at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

A funeral service is now due to take place exactly one month later, on Monday March 21, at the parish church of Mullion, at noon.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Colin’s memory may be made to the RNLI, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, St Petrocs and Ukraine, via or during a retirement collection at the funeral. Alternatively, donations can be sent via RE Tonkin and Son Funeral Directors in Mullion.

About Marco C. Nichols

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