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Coleg Y Cymoedd

Society celebrate life of Caerphilly comic in posthumous birthday meal

23/03/2016
Coleg Y Cymoedd

Laughter was the main course last week at a unique meal celebrating the life and legacy of a certain Caerphilly-born, fez-wearing comic.

The Tommy Cooper Society marked what would have been the great comedy magicians 95th birthday in an open lunch at the Scholar’s Restaurant, Coleg y Cymoedd, Ystrad Mynach Campus.

Around twenty members from across Caerphilly, Bristol and Weston-super-Mare attended the meal, which included fez wearing waiters, storytelling and specially made fez cake.

The society have held similar commemorative lunches since 2004 and a founding member, Cllr Elizabeth Aldworth, of Bedwas, Trethomas and Machen ward, was tasked with cutting the cake.

Current society chairman Tudor Jones was one of the committed fans who founded the society in Tommy’s name in 2003, with the ambition of erecting a statue of the comedian in his home town.

Speaking about the universal appeal of the comic, he said: “I think he was one of the great comedians and he is still very much loved today.

“He was an icon of how to do comedy and magic and was very clever and competent despite his act being based around the impression of incompetence.”

He added: “He wielded a type of family humor that everyone could identify with and as a society we want to perpetuate that kind of spirit.

 “As Caerphilly residents we should all blow the trumpet for him and now the statue of him is one of the symbols of the town alongside Caerphilly Castle.”

Tommy was born in Caerphilly, at 19 Llwyn-On Street, Energlyn in 1921 and was eventually immortalised in 2008 in a statue unveiled by society patron and Hollywood actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins in 2008.

To celebrate the eighth anniversary of the unveiling, committee member Margaret Jones showcased the veil signed by Sir Anthony Hopkins, chronicling the humorous “technical glitches” on that fateful day.

As part of the festivities, members read a letter from Tommy’s daughter Vicky Cooper and announced an award in memory of former society chairman and Caerphilly mayor, Cllr Angus Donaldson, who died in 2014.

Tommy Cooper became a household hold name for his trademark silly jokes and magic tricks and collapsed and died of a heart attack on stage during a live broadcast, watched by millions, in 1984.

In recent years, the fez wearing society have continued his legacy with the “Tommy’s Ticker” campaign, placing defibrillators in public places, including the Twyn Centre, Caerphilly Library and Caerphilly Castle.

Thinking of the future, the society hope to launch a Caerphilly-based magic festival in Tommy’s memory.

Mr Jones added: “We’re constantly trying to encourage youngsters to take part in the society and would like more people to enter the performing arts.

“The Magic Circle expressed interest in helping us with this and hopefully one day we can have a ‘Tommy Cooper Magic Festival’ in the place where he was born.”

The Society continue to hold the annual event to celebrate Tommy Cooper’s birthday at the Scholar’s Restaurant at the Ystrad Mynach Campus of Coleg y Cymoedd, where they are served a luxurious three course lunch run cooked by catering learners. Book a table at Scholars Restaurant at: www.cymoedd.ac.uk/restaurants  

 Tommy Cooper

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