Simon Cooper from Wantage has an unusual life running two very different businesses, Scoop Electrics and Alfred’s Mead, so we were curious to find out about his background.
1. What got you interested in electrical work?
Although my sixth form subjects were drama and design related, I left after the first year to work at the then Apollo Theatre and further my qualifications with an HND in Electrical Engineering.
Moving on to London in the late 80’s to study Theatre Lighting at Paddington College, I soon realised that there was more to lighting than theatre. I enlarged my CV by working on commercials, promo videos and TV before settling into steady work in touring lighting, working with many bands such as The Rolling Stones and U2. In between tours, I found work as the in house technician at The Marquee Club as well as stints at other venues around London, including many of the infamous M25 raves.
2. How did you get from band lighting to brewing?
In 1992 I was part of the crew which supplied the lighting to the Barcelona Olympics. It was there that I had a non-fault accident and broke my neck, taking me home and off work for several weeks.
During my recovery period, I was visited by a sixth form friend who had become involved in Viking battle re-enactment. This sounded like a great way to overcome the boredom of recovery, so a summer of sword fighting ensued.
It appeared that drinking mead around the campfire was the norm, but it was hard to find pre-internet so I bought a book about how to make mead and started brewing my own.
This quickly became my new hobby as mead was a joy to make and drink!
Although I was now back at work on lighting jobs, I brewed much mead over the winter and it became very popular at the re-enactments the next summer.
Eventually I married and became a father and had taken a job as Chief Electrician back at The Apollo where I had started years before. Sadly, theatre is not especially well paid so after a brief period away exploring other avenues of revenue, I started Scoop Electrical Services in 2005 iwhen it became a legal requirement for all electrical work to be carried out by a qualified electrician which had to meet particular legal standards (Part P). This continues to be a growing concern, and I work closely with builders and kitchen fitters, for example, to provide customers’ electrical needs which is an ever satisfying role. I’m very lucky to have continuous work in a job I love.
We’ve also been installing Solar PV since the feed-in tariff started but recently we’ve seen a rise in requirements for EV charge points, so the future is looking positive for our business and renewable energy in general.
4. How do you juggle both businesses?
At the moment making mead is a pastime but Alfred’s Mead is still growing organically. We’ve set up a brewery locally, and it has the potential to become a small business. The process of production takes six months from start to bottling and then ideally a year in the ageing process.
We’ve recently started a company which will offer a range of meads, from traditional and fruit meads, to session meads made with malt and honey. We use locally sourced honey and ingredients and will have the ability to supply retail as well as local markets, in addition to internet sales.
Interest is growing in the rediscovery of mead nationally, and we aim to provide Oxfordshire’s finest!
Please follow us on facebook/Alfred’s Mead to discover our latest news, including our new Woden’s Mead that we made from the abundance of last year’s local blackberries.