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James Copeland (1941-2018)

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Inspiring students: Former pupils remembered James Copeland as talented teacher

James “Jimmy” Copeland, a popular former teacher and sports coach in the East End, has died at his home in Scotland. He was 76.

The father of three helped to mentor a generation of Bermudians during his time on the island between 1966 and 1980, alongside his wife, Pauline,

Mr Copeland, who died on July 22, taught at East End Primary School and St George’s Secondary School.

He was a player and coach at football teams Wellington Rovers and St George’s Colts.

He was also a mentor to athletes, including athletics champion Mike Watson.

A memorial service for Mr Copeland was held last Thursday at St Conal’s Church in his birthplace of Kirkconnel in Dumfries and Galloway.

Venetta Symonds, chief executive of the Bermuda Hospitals Board, said her former teacher at East End Primary had introduced diversity to the classroom, wearing his kilt and ensuring that “we all knew about Scotland”.

Ms Symonds added: “There are a few teachers who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Mr Copeland was one of those few special teachers.”

She said Mr Copeland was “funny, kind and supportive as we prepared for high school, and personally encouraged me to believe in myself and my potential”.

David “Goat” Brangman, a former St George’s goalkeeper, added Mr Copeland was a former football professional who brought tough new standards to the recently formed Colts.

Mr Brangman said: “That’s where he really made his name over three or four seasons, when we had a competitive team.”

He added Mr Copeland had coached him from the age of 16, and was “sports minded, not only in football — a lot of good guys came out of St George’s at that time, and that was his legacy”.

Mr Brangman said Copeland’s children — Roderick, Kevin and Katie — were all born on the island.

Noel “Sub” Smith, a founding member of St George’s Colts, said Mr Copeland delivered “the first really professional training that I had, and most of us down there had”.

He added: “He left a mark not just on our team, but the St George’s area.

“As a person and coach, St George’s sportspeople would have nothing but high regard for what he brought.”

The couple remained frequent visitors to Bermuda after their return to Scotland and they were welcomed at St George’s Cricket Club on their last visit in October 2017.

Mr Smith said the two were “part of the football family”.

Inspiring students: Jimmy Copeland, rear, with his 1968 class at East End Primary School (Photograph supplied)
True sportsman: Jimmy Copeland, centre, watches a football game at Wellington Oval during a visit to Bermuda two years ago. Also pictured are, from left, Gregory Foggo, Noel “Sub” Smith, Carlos Greaves and Ritchie Foggo (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)