Friday, 15 March 2013

My mother

Mrs Vivien M Gough- Cooper
20.X.1917- 8.III.2013

Portrait of Viven M Gough-Cooper by Joan Scotson
Vivien Gough-Cooper, who died peacefully in her sleep at home on Friday 8th March 2013 aged 95,  lived in Farningham for 73 of those years. Her husband W.H (Harry) Gough-Cooper, a successful builder and developer, built the house that was to be their married home at the top of Farningham Hill in 1939.  Vivien was born into a farming family, the Gordons, of nearby Swanley Village, on 20th Oct 1917 (just in time for the Russian Revolution). As a child, she loved dressing up – there is a photograph of her dressed as a snowball, sitting on a swing at the family home Highlands Cottage, in Swanley Village.  
 She attended Bromley High School for girls and was active in many local clubs, notably tennis, badminton and drama. She and Harry were great theatre-goers, enjoying revues and musicals, dining out and going dancing at the Savoy Hotel. Together she and Harry had three children, Jennifer, Elizabeth and Henry.  After WWII, when Harry started businesses in southern Africa, she would often accompany him on his travels, and later, when a yacht, Tiercel, was bought for family holidays, she was a gallant cook in the galley, producing cakes on the tiny gas stove that were sometimes thicker at one end than the other if Tiercel was on a long tack heeled over in the wind.   
Golf and bridge became a big part of her life once her three children had grown up and left home and she found herself alone. (She and Harry were divorced in 1965). She quickly mastered the game of golf and rose to become Lady Captain of the prestigious Chislehurst Golf Club. She dabbled in horse racing for a short time, but did not enjoy losing so that interest was soon dropped.   In the late 1960’s, she became a director of The Richard Demarco Gallery, pioneering contemporary art in Edinburgh, and became a director of the property investment division of the family business on Harry’s death.  
It was characteristic of Vivien's continuing engagement with life that at the age of 94 she went on an (accompanied) visit to Bluewater to buy herself a laptop, so that she could receive and acknowledge emails and family photographs'.
 Vivien was a great benefactor both to her extended family, to friends and to the community.  A keen follower of cricket, including in Farningham, in later life she sponsored a trust for young cricketers and a new stand at the Kent County Cricket Ground in Canterbury. Vivien was a good listener and a source of unfailing common sense and wisdom. She also had a great gift for making friends, both with the young, and the young-at-heart. She was always interested in fashion, buying new outfits in every new season’s colours, and was a lifelong collector of stylish hats from cloches to berets .  Vivien also had a keen sense of humour, relishing dreadful old jokes* and absurdity, often reduced to tears of merriment round her unfailingly hospitable dining table or in company. To the last she was clear about her wishes, refusing medication in the last twentyfour hours. On that same day, she said to her nurse and carers who were discussing some aspect of her care in her bedroom: ‘Stop talking and go and do something’ – an apt epigram for her life.
She is mourned not only by her three children, her 7 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, her wider family and all her many friends colleagues, employees but also her carers, nurses and doctors in whom she inspired a most unusual degree of affection, admiration and respect.
The funeral service will be held at St Peter and St Paul, Farningham, on Friday 22 March 2013, followed by burial in the churchyard.

Elizabeth (Gough-Cooper) Roberts, daughter.
*Mechanic: Your car’s had a heart attack
Car owner: What do you mean?
Mechanic: It’s got a clot behind the wheel

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