EVENTS 2022 (cont.)
HM Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral - 19th September
Proud part for Weymouth standard bearer in Queen's funeral Paul Cooper carried the national standard for the Merchant Navy Association and was among 72 Royal British Legion (RBL) standard bearers hand selected to march behind the coffin of the monarch on September 19. Mr Cooper, 63, of Weymouth, is vice chairman of the Weymouth Portland and District Branch of the association. He said: "It was really moving and an honour and a pleasure to be there. I had a phone call asking me to take part the week before and I said 'yes' straight away”. "The atmosphere when the coffin came along through Whitehall was totally silent. You couldn't hear anything but the beat of a drum and pairs of boots hitting the floor. There was the occasional ripple of applause but you could really hear a pin drop with the silence." Early in the morning on the day of the funeral the standard bearers gathered on the Embankment and waited in a ministry building. They marched down the Embankment to Whitehall and then to the Cenotaph. Mr Cooper lowered his standard for the late Queen as her coffin, on a gun carriage, passed the Cenotaph. He said: "The coffin came within 10ft of me. I had my head bowed and as the Royal family and everyone else passed by, all I could see was boots going past us." Mr Cooper was chosen for the prestigious role in the funeral through his work with the Ministry of Defence on the Lulworth Ranges. The retired diving instructor spent much of his life living in Littlebredy and and used to run his own charter boat in Weymouth. He is currently commodore of the Royal Dorset Yacht Club in Weymouth and is regularly involved in the local Remembrance Day service and Veterans' Day parades. Friends and family have shown much interest in his role in the funeral, Mr Cooper said. "Some people think it's amazing. I spent a lot of time in London for the funeral as we had rehearsals as well and the funeral itself was a long day with us getting up at 4am. Many of the standard bearers got to know each other and we have our own WhatsApp chat group. There were some standard bearers there from different parts of the Commonwealth, including one from Kenya." In recognition of his role at the momentous occasion, Mr Cooper received a certificate from the RBL, which was presented by the board of trustees.
Paul Cooper, in the white hat, in the role of standard bearer at the Queen's funeral. Picture reproduced courtesy of the RBL
 Presentation by Branch 21.10.22
Remembrance Sunday - 13th November
Chrissie & Clive
Paul Compton Crossed the Bar - November 17th
Captain Paul Compton, a co-founder of the Weymouth, Portland and District Merchant Navy Association Branch, who passed away on November 27 at Dorset County Hospital aged 76 after suffering a stroke, was given a fitting send-off last week, with hundreds saying goodbye at his funeral in Upwey. . Paul was destined for a career on the water from a young age when he joined the Sea Cadets as a teenager. Born in Shipston-On-Stour, Warwickshire, on November 10, 1946 and enduring a difficult start to life, Paul was eventually able to live with his mother in London, where he found the Sea Cadet Corps. This kickstarted a keen interest in a career on the ocean. During his time rising up the ranks he worked as a chef and catering manager at various businesses including Harrods. Paul progressed to become the Commanding Officer of the Windsor and Eton unit of the Sea Cadets and led the building of a new unit on the River Thames. In the 1980s he took part in various tall ship races on a variety of boats, which was where he met his future wife, Weymouth girl Suzy, whom he married in 1989 in Upwey. Affectionately nicknamed “Captain Carebear”, Paul sailed with Suzy across the globe but insisted that their base would be in Weymouth. The pair had two daughters - Lucy and Alice - to whom Paul was 'devoted' and took on some of his ship adventures. He was later overjoyed by the arrival of two granddaughters, Rose and Ellen. Throughout his career, Paul worked on board the sail training vessels Tenacious, Lord Nelson, Royalist and Astrid. Having sailed on countless voyages, a key part of his career was teaching and inspiring young people to also pursue careers at sea. Suzy told the Dorset Echo: "So many people have got in touch with me to say that he changed their lives, and they have had amazing careers because of him. It has been really lovely to hear their stories and has been a comfort for me to know the difference that he made and how he inspired them. He loved to follow their careers." She added: "His family was the most important thing to him - he wanted us to be happy when he was going out to sea. When he was away he wrote postcards from every port and bought souvenirs. He was so proud of all his daughters' achievements." Paul co-founded the Weymouth, Portland and District Merchant Navy Association Branch in May 2010 after retirement, to gather together both retired and serving sailors. He was integral in organising a memorial on the Esplanade in Weymouth.to personnel from the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets who served their country. In 2015, Paul was awarded the prestigious Merchant Navy Medal for services to youth sail training and to the Merchant Navy Association branch. There are only up to 20 recipients of the medal annually and he said at the time that it was 'a privilege' to be recognised. During his life Paul held other titles including Vice Commodore of the Royal Dorset Yacht Club and also bought a tourist boat business in Weymouth, White Motor Boats, now known as Coastline Cruises. He bought extra boats to extend the business, offering a ferry service to Portland and Lulworth as well as sightseeing trips along the Jurassic Coast. Paul's funeral was held on December 9th at St Laurence's Church in Upwey, with representatives from the RNLI and the Merchant Navy among those in attendance. "The church was absolutely packed, everyone was standing at the back, it was incredible," Suzy said. "I could not believe how many people were there. Paul left me a document on his computer that he wrote years ago about his favourite hyms, so the service was exactly as he wanted. It was very personal and apt for him. He was no saint, but he was generous, irreplaceable and had a sense of humour that brought dinners and parties to life. He was an amazing person and is going to leave a massive hole in my life."
Annual Seafarer’s Service at St. Pauls Cathedral - 12th October