British Empire Medal for Didcot’s first lady of steam


GREAT Western Society rolling stock company secretary Viv Cooper has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list for her 53 years of service to railway heritage.

Viv Cooper celebrates her British Empire Medal success with No. 1466 at Didcot on January 2. FRANK DUMBLETON/GWS

Viv, 70, who is married, has three daughters and four grandchildren and lives in Maidenhead, joined the society when she was in her teens and she quickly became involved in its administration.

When the first locomotives and coaches were based on the Totnes Quay branch, Viv rolled up her sleeves to clean them alongside her role in promoting the society through a sales stand at outside events and open days.

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When the society moved to its permanent home at Didcot Railway Centre, Viv liaised with British Railways for open days and filmings and arranging VIP entertaining.

For many years her home telephone number was the Society’s main point of contact.

Viv has covered most aspects of administration in the society, including 40 years of producing newsletters for its members and latterly transferring them into digital format. She is now compiling the society’s own history.

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A spokesman said: “She has always felt part of a team to make GWS and
the Didcot Railway Centre successful and accepted the BEM on behalf of all the volunteers.”

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