Fond tributes to ‘legion man through and through’
Tributes have been paid to a former Royal British Legion chairman at the heart of his community who would do “anything for anyone”.
John Copeland died aged 67 on October 29, after a short battle with cancer.
The South Witham resident was well known in and around Stamford, in no small part due to his towering height. But it was his selflessness, wit and warmth, particularly in his time as chairman of the Stamford branch of the Royal British Legion, that placed him firmly in the hearts of those he knew.
This week his family paid loving tribute to a man who made a big impression on the Stamford community. Daughter Alison Collinson described a father who loved a practical joke.
“Even from a young age, when we walked around Stamford it would take hours because he basically knew everyone. You would turn a corner and someone else would say hello.
“Everyone who met him would take to him. He was down to earth and would always have a joke.”
Alison and her brother Charles remember fondly the many jokes their father would play; on family members, friends and even strangers. John, an engineer who served for five years in the RAF, used to work on tower cranes in London, and a favourite target of his was the railway station ticket office attendant.
“Dad would always carry little exploding bangers with him,” said Alison, of Oakham.
“He knew the man in the ticket box always had his head down. So he would put a banger in his wallet so it went off when the man opened it.
“He would make the whole station laugh.”
It wasn’t all fun and games working on the cranes for John, who was hit by lightning while working at the top. But that didn’t change his outlook on life, which was to help anyone in need.
Charles said: “He helped people out. He made sure that they got the legion’s support.”
Alison added: “He was an amazing dad, brother and grandad.”
Alison thanked Barry Tanswell and his colleagues for their help in arranging the funeral.
John, who lived in South Witham, was legion branch chairman from 2007. His successor Ray Beresford took over earlier this year when John fell ill.
Paying tribute to John, Ray said: “He was a legion man through and through. He would help anyone in trouble. It’s a big loss not only to Stamford but to the county as well.”
John was born in Ireland before moving with his family to Tolethorpe at a young age. He married Jacqueline, and they lived for some time in Essendine with their children. Jacqueline sadly died in 2007. He loved his seven grandchildren: Imogen, Jake, Georgia, Kieran, Amelia, Emily and Nicholas.
John’s funeral will be held at 1.30pm on Wednesday, November 18, at St Mary and St Augustine’s Church in Broad Street, Stamford. All friends of John are welcome.