July 22 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, July 5, 2014
It could be one of the most famous dog ends in history.
And now its owner hopes a new exhibition will help solve the mystery of how it came to be in Suffolk.
The four inch stub of one of Winston Churchill’s iconic cigars was picked up by an anonymous Suffolk Conservative after the leader and statesman learnt he had become peace-time prime minister in 1951.
The butt then made its way from the ash tray in the Woodford constituency to a fundraising auction for the Eye Conservative Association at Braiseworth Hall, Tannington in the sixties where it was sold for £10.5s to Rupert Cooper.
Now Mr Cooper, 93, who has kept the cigar at his home at The Hall, Great Bricett, near Stowmarket ever since, hopes a 12-month exhibition on Churchill at the London Science Museum – in which the cigar stub will feature – will encourage someone to identify the donor or come forward with more information.
Mr Cooper, now 93, said: “I’ve always enjoyed having the memento from the great man, I must say. It’s been in my lounge for over 50 years. But I hope we will can find out who the donor is.”
A letter that accompanied the cigar at the auction, states that, “a member of the Eye Association was working with him (Mr Churchill) at the time, and was unable to resist the temptation of removing the cigar from the ashtray after the new prime minister had left.”
The letter went on to add that the anonymous donor felt that “Sir Winston would have approved of its now being offered for sale to help the Conservative cause.”
Mr Cooper’s son Oliver, 68, of Manor Road, Elmsett, said he thought the donor would have been cautious about coming forward at the time.
He added: “He didn’t want his name to be known at the time, he didn’t want to be branded as a light-fingered member of the party probably. That may still be the case, or he or she might be dead. But it’s all part of the story.”
But Mr Cooper said he hopes the donor might have told someone locally about the incident.
He added: “If someone is willing to come forward and say ‘Yes, it was me or it was my mum or dad that offered it’, then that rounds the whole thing off.”
The cigar will be in London from January for 12 months before returning to Mr Cooper, who said he might have his own plans for it in the future.
He added: “I never intended to light it up, but I might well do, maybe if I get to 100.”
If you have information about the cigar email: firstname.lastname@example.org.