Tributes paid following death of devoted Cookham Dean farmer Tom Copas

Tributes have been paid to a devoted farmer and life-long resident of Cookham Dean following his death at the age of 82.

Tom Copas, of Mount Farm, died on June 2 at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading after a battle with cancer, having lived and worked all of his years in the village.

The elder son of Tom and Win Copas, Tom left school aged 16, with a desire to join the family tradition and become a farmer.

He did this first together with his father and uncles, then in partnership with his brother and, since 1999, with his wife, Brenda and their children, trading as The Copas Partnership and Copas Traditional Turkeys.

These businesses continue today under the management of his children.

Tom’s career with turkeys started when he left school, and has developed over the years. He developed awareness of the Traditional Farmfresh Turkey, and was the founder chairman of its association when it formed in 1984.

The Copas Turkey is now nationally renowned and stocked by many butchers nationwide, and also enjoyed at Christmas by families in and around Cookham Dean.

Tom won the national inaugural Poultry Producer of the Year in 2005, and the British Turkey Federation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, and this year, the South of England Agricultural Show’s Award of Honour for Berkshire.

He was also a member of Maidenhead Young Farmers Club, and became involved with the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs, which culminated in him being appointed a life vice president of the association.

Closer to home, he was involved with the Royal East Berks Agricultural Association, becoming its president in 1996, and was also appointed to the same post for the Royal County of Berkshire Agricultural Show in 2012.

Tom joined a management course run by the Worshipful Company of Farmers in 1985, and later became involved in City Livery life.

He became Master of the Livery in 2007-8, which he regarded as one of his greatest honours.

In the agricultural world, he chaired the Oxford Farming Conference, and welcomed then-Prime Minister John Major to the event. He was also the Berkshire representative on the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) for 23 years.

Tom enjoyed organised social events and supporting local charities, and was fascinated with the World Wars.

He loved to watch sport, with rugby, skiing and rowing his favourites.

A recent quote from Tom released by his family said: “I have no regrets about what I have done; I only have regrets for what I have not done. It has all gone much too quickly and I have enjoyed it all.”

He is survived by his wife, Brenda, whom he married in 1968, his four children, Tanya, Fenella, Sarah and Tom, and seven grandchildren.

In a joint quote following the death of their father, Tom’s four children said: “Our father had extraordinary drive, determination and zest for life.

“He had a genuine interest in other people, and was generous with his time and advice, demonstrated by the many wonderful messages we have received since his death.

“We will miss him every day but his legacy will live on in all of us, in his grandchildren, and in the Cookham landscape he loved.”

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