Author completes labour of love

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AN amateur social historian who turned author is set to sign off on 30 years of painstaking research into the lives of his family.

Derek Cooper, of New Queens Road, Sudbury, has completed his mission to finish what started as a delve into the past ... and turned into a full-blown book.

A Social History of a Suffolk Family offers a unique insight into three centuries of his family’s trials and tribulations, but began life as a handful of photographs.

“I started off by just looking at my family tree,” said 83-year-old Derek, who has lived in Sudbury his whole life.

“But then I became more interested when my dad left a collection of photographs taken during the First World War and beyond.

“I tried to link the family with events and historical facts – and it went from there.” The result, Derek says, was something that was “rather like a novel” that he could show to his family to give them a glimpse of what life was like for relatives dating back to the 1700s.

But, recognising the work he had put in and the intrigue surrounding the past, friends encouraged Derek to get the 345-page book published.

“It has been a real labour of love,” he said. “The cost of publishing was an issue but I had a number of positive comments from editorial evaluations and wanted to see it through.”

In the end, the Heritage Workshop Centre, in Lowestoft, gave Derek its support and printed the book.

Detailing the family’s experiences of two world wars, some of the county’s major industrial developments and the sad tale of a child sent away to a workhouse, the book will be available for £15.

Derek will also be holding a book signing at Sudbury Town Hall from 11am on Saturday, August 13.

“It has taken a long time to get here and it is not what I envisaged when I set out, but I’m very proud and pleased with the end result,” he added.