'Max Factor lady' - Tributes to adored gran who died in M11 layby

Nick and Maxine Fulcher and Peggy and Neville Copeman

Peggy Copeman's daughter Maxine pictured with her husband Nick has paid tribute to her mother ahead of her inquest. - Credit: Sonya Duncan/Fulcher family

Tributes have been paid to a "special lady" who enjoyed cycling to the movies and serving up Sunday roast every week to her family.

The family of Peggy Copeman have remembered their beloved wife, mum and nanny, ahead of Monday's start of a five-day inquest into her death.

The grandmother-of-two, from New Buckenham, died in a private ambulance in an M11 layby in December 2019 while being transported from Taunton to Norwich.

It followed a lack of suitable mental health beds in the area at the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust. 

Peggy Copeman on holiday with family

The family of Peggy Copeman has remembered their special lady ahead of a five day inquest into her death. - Credit: Maxine Fulcher

Peggy Copeman, nee Soames, grew up the eldest of five in Spooner Row, near Wymondham.

Her daughter Maxine Fulcher, from North Lopham, paid tribute to her loving and kindhearted mum.

As a teen she lived in Fen Street, Old Buckenham, with her aunt before moving to Greyhound Lane, in Banham, following her parents' separation.

Her next-door neighbour was her future husband Neville Copeman, whom she married at Banham Church in 1959, and together they set up their family home in New Buckenham.

Nick and Maxine Fulcher from North Lopham .

Nick and Maxine Fulcher from North Lopham . - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

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Mrs Fulcher said: "They lived next door to each other. That's how my mum and dad got to know each other and began courting.

"My mum liked biking to Wymondham Picture House, she loved the movies. 

"It's like how we do, we like pop stars and film stars, she loved what they wore and the perfumes and the make-up.

"She was a Max Factor lady because Elizabeth Taylor used to wear it in those day. She used to like to look nice."

Peggy and Neville Copeman

Peggy Copeman pictured with her husband Neville at Christmas time in 2010. - Credit: Maxine Fulcher

The couple's pet names for each other were mummy and daddy, and Mrs Copeman looked after the cottage while Mr Copeman worked on the farm next to the house until they retired in their 60s. 

Mrs Fulcher, 59, said: "She was a lovely mum. She would always sing all the songs from the movies. She always liked singing things like Doris Day and pushing me in the swings.

"If she didn't know you she would be very nervous, she would want to do things for you, such as make you a cup of tea and make sure you were comfortable. She was very kindhearted and willing to please."

Tribute to Peggy Copeman

Peggy Copeman pictured after the birth of her daughter Maxine. - Credit: Maxine Fulcher

Mrs Fulcher said her mum had suffered with mental ill health throughout her life, first starting when Mrs Fulcher was three years old. 

Mrs Copeman had been seen fortnightly by a community nurse and admitted to Julian Hospital at different stages of her life, but never sent out of the county. 

Peggy Copeman, on her daughter Maxine's wedding day. 

Peggy Copeman, on her daughter Maxine's wedding day. - Credit: Maxine Fulcher

Her daughter said: "The only time she's been out of Norfolk was on that horrible journey to Taunton. That’s the furthest she has ever been. 

“We will never understand why she went so far and what happened to her on that day. It’s so vague.  

“It’s bad enough what’s happened to her. It should never happen to anyone else." 

Once a year the family would go to a caravan in Great Yarmouth, with fond memories of Mrs Copeman rustling up a Sunday roast in the caravan's kitchen.

Peggy and Neville Copeman with their daughter Maxine on holiday in Great Yarmouth.

Peggy and Neville Copeman with their daughter Maxine on holiday in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Maxine Fulcher

The mum-of-two said: "We've gone on holiday and she's got to make a roast. It seems to be a Sunday tradition." 

The family of Peggy Copeman have looked back on her life. 

The family of Peggy Copeman have looked back on her life. - Credit: Maxine Fulcher

It was a tradition the family enjoyed every Sunday, with family members then sitting and watching the Grand Prix afterwards. 

Mrs Fulcher said: "She was our special lady we saw every Sunday. I still cannot get used to not going there. I wake up every Sunday and am thinking this is when I would go and see mum."

She said it had been upsetting for her husband Nick, who has campaigned in her mum's name following her death, their two children, Kieran, 25, and Melissa, 28, and left her father Neville "heartbroken". 

Peggy Copeman died on the side of the road of the M11 while being transported back to Norwich from D

Peggy Copeman died on the side of the road of the M11 while being transported back to Norwich from Devon. A family photograph from her 80th birthday in September 2018. Picture: Fulcher family - Credit: Archant

Mrs Fulcher added: "He's broken. I take him up every Sunday to my mum's grave and he will sit there and touch it and say 'poor mum, she shouldn't be in there'.

"He's alone now. The love of his life and she's gone. He's been with her in really bad times and he's been a marvellous husband, father, and grandad."

Norfolk's senior coroner Jacqueline Lake prepared a report to prevent future deaths to Premier Rescue Ambulance Service (PRAS), which transported Mrs Copeman. The Care Quality Commission suspended the service at the start of the month.  

Peggy Copeman pictured with her daughter Maxine Fulcher as a child

Peggy was a keen cyclist and helped teach her daughter Maxine, with many Saturday cycles together. - Credit: Maxine Fulcher

In the response to the decision, Mrs Fulcher said: "I was really shocked when I read about the ambulance service and their two people, not realising she passed away possibly between them. 

"The other thing I can't get over is they were so complacent and thinking she was snoring - are you going to think someone is snoring all that while?

"That always worries me. I say that to Nick: did she call out to me and dad because she would have done."

Mrs Copeman's inquest will begin on Monday and expected to last five days. 

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