Today we have attended the funeral of a longstanding supporter and friend of Help Musicians UK, Helen (Peggy) Cooper, who has passed away at the age of 97. Mrs Cooper provided the charity with the R.E ‘Dick’ Maidment Scholarship for voice in memory of her brother Dick Maidment.
Peggy Maidment was born in Clapham on 4 February 1919. She had a variety of jobs, and worked at the Ministry of Defence during the Second World War. She was a talented dancer and appeared in a number of London theatres, but her dancing career ended after she fell through a trapdoor and suffered a back injury.
She married chartered accountant Philip Cooper and they lived at Streatham until his death in 1976 and her mother’s passing two years later, at which point she moved back to the family home in Bushnell Road, Balham, to live with her brother, Dick, to whom she was very close.
Dick had a great love of music, particularly opera and the voice, and had been a regular visitor to Covent Garden, Glyndebourne and music festivals overseas. Following his death in 1997, which affected Peggy deeply, she approached the Musicians' Benevolent Fund to make a significant donation of £200,000 in his memory. As a result of this, the R.E. Maidment Scholarship was established in 2001, with two awards for the voice each year.
Peggy enjoyed coming to the annual auditions and other Help Musicians UK events whenever she could, and took great satisfaction from the progress of those who had received Maidment awards. Help Musicians UK staff remember her company very fondly, always warm and kind natured, and visibly delighted to meet those supported in her brother’s name.
For the last few weeks she had been at the Heritage Care Centre, Tooting Bec. She was making good progress and was hoping to return home, but died peacefully on 15 June 2016, having been taken ill the previous evening.
So far 28 artists have been directly supported through the Maidment Scholarship, including some of the leading classical talent in the UK such as Timothy Mead, Susan Boyd, Nick Pritchard, Louise Alder and Gary Griffiths (pictured below). Without this support, these artists may not have received the vital funding needed to succeed at a crucial point in their careers.
Help Musicians UK will be forever thankful and will always carry Mrs Peggy Cooper’s memory with us, and with those musicians directly supported through her legacy.