Bob's celebrity birthday surprise

BIRTHDAYS should be all about surprises.Cards, cake, presents – and unexpected messages of congratulations from all your favourite members of the royal family, celebrities and politicians.

BIRTHDAYS should be all about surprises.

Cards, cake, presents - and unexpected messages of congratulations from all your favourite members of the royal family, celebrities and politicians.

Now that doesn't happen to many of us, but it's exactly what Bob Cooper received, waking on his 80th birthday to greetings from a list of people which makes it appear he has some friends in very high places indeed.

After all, few people get a birthday message from the Queen, Prince Charles, and prime minister Tony Blair.

But there were more - England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, goalscoring legend Gary Lineker, Baroness Thatcher, celebrities Michael Palin, Ian Hislop, Bruce Forsyth, Michael Aspel, David Dickinson, Natasha Kaplinski, Rolf Harris, and a card signed by all the Ipswich Town team.

In all, there were cards, signed photos and letters from more than 35 senior politicians, TV presenters and stars, each member of the Songs of Praise team, and all main actors and actresses from Spooks and Holby City.

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Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber even sent a present - a book of the Phantom of the Opera musical.

The greetings were gathered by Mr Cooper's son Adrian, 43, who embarked on a mammoth letter writing campaign last September to persuade the personalities to send a message to mark his dad's 80th birthday.

Adrian, of Estuary Drive, Old Felixstowe said: "The idea started when the Ipswich Town first team were kind enough to sign a birthday card for my father.

"I then wrote to Susie Fowler Watt and Stuart White from Look East and they were also very kind in sending my father some signed pictures for his birthday. After that, I just asked anyone who I knew my father liked and admired."

His "birthday project" eventually led him to write to Buckingham Palace.

Usually, the Queen only sends messages of congratulation on 100th birthdays. However, Adrian's letter included such a warm tribute about his father, including a description of his service in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, with time spent on landing craft at D-Day, Her Majesty made an exception and wrote to wish Mr Cooper a very happy day.

Mr Cooper, who lives with his wife Doris, 77, in Ascot Drive, Walton, Felixstowe, was completely surprised by all the special greetings, which Adrian put together in a special album.

The octogenarian, who used to work for British Fermentation Products in Felixstowe said: "I never had an inkling about it at all so it was a complete and wonderful surprise.

"I'm amazed that Adrian was able to track down all these people. They must be incredibly busy.

"But I'm so pleased to receive all their kind wishes on my special day. Above all though, I spent my birthday with the two people who mean the most to me, my wife Doris and my son. And that's what means the most."

The family spent a day out at Duxford to celebrate his birthday.

Full list of people who sent Bob their birthday wishes:

HRH The Queen

HRH Prince Charles

Baroness Thatcher

Rt Hon Tony Blair

Rt Hon John Prescot

Rt Kenneth Clarke

Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith

Sven Goran Erikson

Gary Lineker

Alan Hansen

Mark Lawrenson

Michael Palin

Ian Hislop

Bruce Forsyth

Natasha Kaplinski

Susie Fowler Watt

Stuart White

Rolf Harris

Terry Wogan

David Dickinson

Joe Royle and the Ipswich Town team

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Songs of Praise

Aled Jones

Diane Louise Jordan

Sally Magnusson

Eamon Holmes

Pam Rhodes


Matthew Macfadyen (Tom Quinn)

David Oyelowo (Danny)

Nicola Walker (Ruth)

Peter Firth (Harry)

Holby City

Amanda Mealing (Connie Beauchamp)

Tina Hobley (Chrissie Williams)

Sharon Maughan (Tricia Williams)

Patricia Potter (Diane Lloyd)

Kelly Adams (Mickie Hendrie)

Kim Vithana (Rosie Sattar)

Art Malik (Zubin Khan)