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Wilf Cooper

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Fundraising for St Peter's Hospice

raised by 121 supporters
  • Event: Bristol Half Marathon 2011, 11 Sep 2011

St Peter's Hospice

We care for adults with incurable illnesses to help improve their quality of life


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After not-so secretly running half marathons through most of his 80s Mr Cooper is marking his 90th year with his final fundraiser run.

It was in 2004, and at the age of 83, that the former Special Boat Service Navy man first got a taste for running the race.

After telling Sylvia, his wife of 67 years, that he was going along to help as a steward, he laced up his trainers and completed the race in three hours 11 minutes and 36 seconds.

Mrs Cooper, who also celebrates her 90th birthday later this year, said: "He told me he was going along to put up barriers and help with the race. I only found out he ran it because the neighbour told me they'd seen him on the television. He was in the dog house that day I can tell you."

Even falling down the stairs dislocating his shoulder and breaking his ribs didn't stop Mr Cooper running and he has since run a further five races, without telling his wife, raising thousands of pounds for St Peter's Hospice.

Mrs Cooper said: "I do worry about him, he had a heart attack about 20 years ago but it doesn't stop him."

The couple, who have seven daughters, 14 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren, met at St John's Parish Church, which was in Bedminster, when they were both 14 years old.

Mrs Cooper said: "He was head choir boy in the church and that's what attracted me to him. I thought he would never go for me."

But the boy from Windmill Hill had fallen in love and even when away at war he continued to write letters to her West Street home.

He said: "I wrote to her but after a while I didn't get a reply. Then I found out that her house had been bombed. I even wrote to the council to see what had happened to her."

Mrs Cooper said: "I moved a few times although I stayed on the same street and then the house got bombed. We were lucky to be alive."

But Mr Cooper's persistence paid off and he managed to track down the family to Rockwell Green, in Somerset. Within months they were married and began family life in Brislington, later moving to Lockleaze.

Thanks to Mr Cooper's days in the Navy he had always stayed fit and the couple also taught sequence dancing together in clubs near to their home in Bonnington Walk.

Mr Cooper said: "I always like the feeling you get from exercise. I stay fit to stay healthy. I've got a static bike and a rowing machine and a few weights. I also go up and down the stairs ten times and I do that three times a day.

"I like to run for St Peter's Hospice because I had a friend who had cancer and received a great deal of care from them. I raised £1,200 last year and the most I ever raised was £1,690. I'd like to beat that this year. I think my bones are ready to creak so it will be my last race."

Mr Cooper has a sponsor form at Filton Avenue Post Office if anyone wants to donate any money for his efforts.

The Bristol Half Marathon takes place on Sunday, September 11. For more information, visit www.runbristol.com.


  • 90 years old and still going strong!!
  • Where it all began....
  • My wife of 67 years on our wedding day. +2