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Tributes paid to much-loved Norwich publican

PUBLISHED: 11:28 11 February 2011

Former Norwich publican Roger Cooper, who has died aged 64, with his grandson, Hugo.

Former Norwich publican Roger Cooper, who has died aged 64, with his grandson, Hugo.

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Derek James pays tribute to Roger Cooper, who has died aged 64.

He was a man who made us smile and added sunshine to so many lives.

Warm tributes have been paid to a well-known, colourful and much-loved Norwich publican, who has died suddenly at his home, aged 64.

Roger Cooper, who was born and brought up in Cromwell Road, Sprowston, and went to the local high school, was best known in more recent years as the inimitable steward and host of the popular Anglia TV Social Club.

It was after a short spell at art school that Roger found his true vocation... in the pub business. Wherever he worked, people loved him.

Both before and after his time at the Anglia Club – which for many years, until it closed in 2003, was in Crown Road, at the back of the TV HQ – he worked in the licensed trade in numerous premises, both in Norwich and the surrounding villages.

Among them were the Railway Inn at Wymondham, the Dolphin in Heigham Street (during the late 70s and early 80s), Bishops at Hellesdon, the Hog in Armour at Charing Cross, the Park House, the Cygnet and The Castle.

And in 1980 Roger was named as runner-up in the East Anglian Innkeeper of the Year award.

Life in any of the pubs was rarely dull when he was around.

His former wife Kim, recalled: “It was always, any excuse for fancy dress or a party. Every charity night he would be busy raising money.”

After a short first spell at the Anglia TV club, Roger ran the Pottergate Tavern in Norwich and was then welcomed back “home” to the Anglia Club until it finally closed for the last time.

He later dispensed friendship behind the bar at the former Billy Bluelight (now The Freemason Arms) on Hall Road, Norwich, and at Spixworth Social Club where he was involved with the football team.

His interests outside football – he was a life-long supporter of Norwich City Football Club –included golf, fishing and music.

And his love of music was passionate – both on and off stage.

Roger played drums with a band called Three’s Company, which played at the legendary Orford night spot in Norwich on several occasions as well as numerous other venues.

He was also an enthusiastic concert-goer.

His daughter Amy said: “He also loved steam trains since his childhood days – and was wonderful at passing on this passion to his grandson, for whom he spent hours constructing train sets.

“Over the last few years he was the kindest and most caring grandfather we could ever have wished for,” she added

Neil Thompson, regional director of Anglia, Yorkshire, Tyne Tees and Border with ITV, described Roger’s death as “a sad loss to a cherished part of the enduring Anglia legacy.”

He added: “Roger hadn’t been in the best of health for some time.

“But, nevertheless, it comes as a sad shock for his family, friends and the many, many devoted former customers that time has now been called upon such a wonderful and warm-hearted character.”

Among those Roger worked for was Alan Fuller at The Hog-in-Armour and Eatwell Catering who said: “You cannot over-emphasise the sense of fun that was like an aura surrounding him.

“Little he was, in stature – but a giant in heart. He brought so much sunshine into lots of people’s lives.”

Roger, who lived at Vauxhall Street in the city, leaves his ex-wife Kim, daughter Amy, son-in-law Bob and young grandchildren Hugo and Florence, brother Trevor and nephew Sean.

His funeral service will take place at St Faith’s Crematorium on Tuesday February 15 at 9.30am.

With thanks to Colin Bevan.

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