ONE of Whitby’s best known characters and business owners has died.
Justin Coope (56) died on Sunday in his sleep in his flat above his shop – Justin Chocolatier – in Church Street, with his beloved dog Rocky curled up by his side.
Justin started his first business in Whitby 30 years ago after moving to the town aged 24.
His first premises was opened at 129 Church Street – Justin Fudge and Toffee – which is currently closed over the winter, before he expanded it to include the main shop at 92 Church Street.
They are now famed for their array of more than 100 types of handmade chocolates and fudge, which are sold to people not just in Whitby but from all over the world.
Justin’s family and employees, who have been inundated with condolence cards and flowers, opened the shop the day after his death and have vowed to keep the business going. They say it is what Justin would have wanted.
Tributes have poured into the newsroom for him and on our Whitby Gazette Facebook and Twitter pages.
His devastated sister Miriam Heselwood (55) said he had been suffering from chronic health issues in the months leading up to his death and a post-mortem is being held to find out exactly why he died.
She said: “We will never replace him. He always said he had a wonderful life.
“He was always so happy about everything he did in his life and he never sat still. He had no regrets.
“He was such a big person in every way. He was a man of the people and was very into justice and the rights of people. We will all miss him so much.”
Wendy Connorton (66) who had worked for Justin for 30 years added: “I’ve just lost my best friend. “He had a heart that could have swallowed Whitby. He would have given anything to anybody.”
continued on page 3
“If anyone was in trouble he was always there.
“He is going to leave an enormous hole in Whitby, he was such a character.”
Justin, trained as a chef after leaving school and later studied the specialist art of fudge and chocolate making while living in Whitby.
Originally from Cheshire and one of six children, his devoted parents his late father Dr John Coope MBE and his mum, Dr Jean Coope helped him set up the business.
His sister added the keen fishermen and animal lover had a succession of catering jobs on leaving school but was best suited to working for himself.
“He was a square peg that didn’t fit into a round hole, he had to be self-employed,” she said.
Justin’s shop will be run by employee Lee “Moggy” Barton who started working with him in 1997 along with the support of other staff and Justin’s family.
Next Thursday, the evening before Justin’s funeral, his coffin will be placed at Justin Fudge and Toffee at 129 Church Street, for people to pay their last respects from 7pm to 11pm.
Everyone who knew Justin is invited to join a procession from 129 Church Street at 10am next Friday to St Ninian’s Church where a requiem mass will be held for his funeral at 10.30am.
The service will be followed by cremation in Scarborough.
Afterwards people are invited to join the family at Sander’s Yard from 2pm where a buffet will be provided and, at the Friendship Rowing Club in Church Street from 8pm until midnight, where a celebration of Justin’s life will be held featuring songs, dance and speeches.