John Cope, an ex-serviceman at the Royal Air Force (RAF), was honoured during the territory’s annual Remembrance Day Service for giving two decades to the service of his country.
Deputy Governor David Archer, Jr presented him with the special award at the Eileene L Parsons Auditorium at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) on Sunday, November 10.
The day was dedicated to paying homage to those who fought in World War I and other conflicts around the world.
“It feels very nice, actually. I have done a lot for this territory in the 38 years that I was here,” Cope told BVI News following the event.
He started as a radio engineer and worked his way to the top to communications at the RAF5.
“I saw the world — thanks to the British government — without having to pay airline fees and I enjoyed it very much,” he stated.
The retired businessman and marine surveyor said he now resides in Sussex in the United Kingdom. His BVI home was levelled by Hurricane Irma two years ago.
More about Cope
A Remembrance Day tribute dedicated to Cope said he joined the RAF in 1952 and served in many parts of the world including Berlin, Cyprus, Malta, the United Kingdom, the Federation of Malaya, North Africa and Gan.
“During the six months he was stationed in Gan, he collected a large number of shells which he donated to the HLSCC’s Marine Department about five years ago,” it said.
“Mr Cope described his deployment in Malaya as the most challenging because he spent ten days living in the jungle and relied on whatever the jungle provided for food,” the tribute read.
First BVI visit
Cope first visited the territory in the early ’80s.
The tribute said he transported the RAF servicemen who were doing a communication exercise on Beef Island. During that time, he ended up at Nanny Cay on Tortola and met the owner of Tortola Yacht Charters, Ed Hamilton.
“This conversation led to a job opportunity as Assistant Maintenance Manager at the end of his service to the RAF. He accepted the offer and arrived in the BVI in November 1980.”
The ex-serviceman worked for the company until 1984 when he joined Hirst Marine Surveyors as a marine surveyor. He later formed his own company until he retired in 2017.
Additionally, Cope has served on the planning committee for the Remembrance Day Service for many years.
In the meantime, His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert laid a Poppy wreath on behalf of the people of the Territory.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Vincent Wheatley laid a wreath on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands, the Commissioner of Police Michael Matthew laid a wreath on behalf of the uniformed organizations while ex-serviceman Simon Welch laid his wreath on behalf of all the servicemen and women.
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