Returning from a holiday, the first e-mail opened contained
the very sad news from Dicky Boast, that Mike Cooper, Project Leader, had died on the 13 March 2016.
Mike, or to give him his full title: Lieutenant Colonel Michael Cooper, M.B.E., Retired,
was appointed Project Leader in 2007, soon after inauguration of the Project to recreate a Hawksworth County Class 4-6-0. After leaving King Edward VI School in Bath in 1965, Mike joined the Army, serving in the Royal Engineers, Field and Specialist Units with distinction. He retired in 2005 as a Lieutenant Colonel, having led in the development of the British Army's deployable accommodation, known as Expeditionary Campaign Infrastructure, as well as SME for deployable field utilities for which he was awarded his M.B.E.
Soon after retiring, he came to Didcot Railway Centre and joined the team restoring 4079 'Pendennis Castle'. In 2007 he was asked to take over leadership of the nascent GW County Project, a role for which he was well-suited and in which he excelled. His vision and drive has taken the Project forward, from an incomplete selection of bits and pieces from other locomotives, to the point where a rolling chassis fit for a County is soon to be achieved, a new Standard 15 OA boiler has been ordered and construction of a tender unique to the County class is well advanced.
There is still much to be done before 1014 'County of Glamorgan' takes to the rails under her own steam, but it is to be hoped that Mike's spirit and infectious enthusiasm to 'give us the tools'
will drive the Project forward for us 'to finish the job.'
We will miss him, but hope that by our efforts we can create a lasting memorial to his memory. We can only echo what Dicky Boast said in his sad e-mail: 'He is free of pain and is at peace.' However, to use a phrase Mike often used, he was a 'top man' in all respects.