Cooper earns top honour after 20 years

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A Masham brewery cooper’s 20 years of dedication and service to the ancient craft has been honoured by one of London’s oldest trade organisations.

T&R Theakston Ltd’s Jonathan Manby – the country’s last remaining brewery-based craft cooper – has been made a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Coopers.

Jonathan, who started as an apprentice cooper at Theakston’s in 1995, said: “Becoming a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Coopers is a great personal honour for me.

“It is also a tribute to Theakston’s, which is keeping this ancient tradition well and truly alive in our part of North Yorkshire.”

Among the privileges, which comes 12 years after being made Freeman of the City of London, are the ability to vote for the Lord Mayor of London, and to vote and stand in elections for the governance of the Worshipful Company of Coopers.

While the role now largely concerns its charitable work – including supporting two schools – the new liveryman says it still plays an important role in his unique trade.

Jonathan added: “The Worshipful Company of Coopers and its work has been something I’ve been a part of since my apprenticeship, and I’m very proud to play a role in the continuation of the craft of coopering.

“There aren’t many craft coopers left in the UK, and while a lot of the Worshipful Company of Cooper’s work is primarily concerned with charity, it still plays an important role in protecting and prolonging the practice of this trade.”

Theakston’s director Simon Theakston said: “I speak for everyone at Theakston’s when I say how thrilled and delighted we are for Jonathan.”

“This is an honour he richly deserves and I know he will be a credit to the Worshipful Company of Coopers.

“Jonathan joined Theakston’s as an apprentice in 1995, and has become an extremely talented craftsman during his two decades with us.

“As a full time cooper here, in the brewery, he has become an institution in his own right, and every year he demonstrates his coopering skills at shows and fairs around the country, and his cooperage is one of the main attractions at our visitor centre.”