John and Jacqui Copsey had been through a lot together. Their connection weathered jealously, divorce, children, an election and even a brain tumor. While it seemed like the couple who had drifted apart and found each other later in life were built to last, all it took was a pretty 19-year-old girl to tear them apart.
Charismatic, outgoing and larger than life, the electrical engineer with a passion for local politics was a popular choice in the East Yorkshire seaside town.
And John, looking distinguished in his mayoral robes and chains, took to civic duty like a duck to water. He never missed an official function, even though Jacqui, 63, was often too ill to join him as mayoress after treatment for a brain tumour.
A tireless charity-fundraiser, John, 62, let people try on his mayoral chains for a £1 donation to the local air ambulance and was a natural in front of the cameras.
John and Jacqui 2015
He and Jacqui, who first got together 38 years ago, were respected VIPs and regulars at the local yacht club and have a 34-year-old son who is first officer on luxury boat charters.
Jacqui was so proud of John. But not any more: today, she is devastated, humiliated and betrayed.
The whole town was scandalized when it emerged the former mayor had ‘ditched’ Jacqui for 19-year-old agricultural student Daisy Tomlinson — a young woman 43 years his junior.
It’s one thing to have to deal with your husband trading you in for a younger model, but another thing altogether when it’s for someone who’s young enough to be your granddaughter.
Splashed all over the papers were photographs of the new couple out and about, hand-in-hand, looking less — it must be said — like lovebirds than a teenager taking her doddery grandad out for the day.
‘I think he’s gone completely nuts,’ says Jacqui, still in shock by the sudden and tawdry end to her partnership with John.
‘He must have gone mad, because I can’t find any other way to explain it. He’s too old for a mid-life crisis.’
For Jacqui, the whole saga has been nothing short of a ‘nightmare’. She says she feels like a ‘laughing stock’ every time she leaves the house.
The love-struck pair, however, remain defiant.
Now sharing a flat with his teenage lover, Mr Copsey said after the scandal broke: ‘We are very much in love and intend to marry. You can put that down as our official engagement. There is nothing more to it.’
Daisy added: ‘We are very happy. We are at a loss why anyone is interested. It’s quite boring. My parents are happy. They say they are happy as long as I am happy.’
Mr Copsey, who met Daisy at a rock concert when she was only 17, insisted their friendship turned to romance only recently, adding that there was ‘no abuse of position’.
But in her first interview, wife Jacqui claims Daisy admitted she and John had been seeing each other once a week for the past two years.
Furthermore, Jacqui denies being ‘ditched’, saying that she kicked John out of the marital home last month after her attempts to reason with the star-crossed lovers fell on deaf ears.
When contacted by the Daily Mail, Mr Copsey who though no longer mayor is still a town councilor said he had no further comment to make either on his relationship with Daisy or on anything his ex-wife has to say.
‘At first, I thought it was just a foolish schoolgirl crush which would fizzle out with time,’ says Jacqui, who now faces having to sell their jointly owned £235,000 three-bedroom home in a painful division of assets.
‘I don’t know how many times I said to John: “She’s only 19!” I thought he’d come to his senses and realize he was being a silly old fool, flattered by the attention.
‘John was a very good mayor and someone in his position shouldn’t have given her the time of day. It’s just crazy.
‘I can’t even begin to understand what she sees in him. I asked him: “What do you speak about? What do you have in common?” He just told me: “Oh, we get on very well.”
‘Perhaps it’s because she’ll just listen to him and not question anything, whereas I don’t. Or it’s the sex and his brain is in his crotch. I just don’t know.’
Jacqui says the couple’s son is horrified at his father’s behavior.
‘He says that even he, at 34, wouldn’t entertain going out with a 19-year-old,’ she says.
‘Even Daisy’s mother, at 49, is too young for John. The whole thing is ridiculous.’
Married in 1980, seven months after meeting in a nightclub, Jacqui admits her relationship with John has not been without problems.
In 1992, following a series of rows over what Jacqui calls John’s roving eye, they divorced. She claims he has always been ‘a ladies’ man’ and a ‘bit of a player’.
Nevertheless, in 1997 they reconciled after John’s second marriage broke down and Jacqui split from her policeman boyfriend. She says they had both realised they still loved each other.
The couple never got round to remarrying, although weddings were booked twice, but they had lived as man and wife ever since.
‘We just kind of drifted back together,’ says Jacqui. ‘We had a son, who was still a teenager, and I was feeling vulnerable after the death of my father from cancer. Our marital home was still in joint names. John was tall, good-looking and — despite being full of himself — a lively man to be with.
‘I thought it was better second time round, but now I think I was deluded and blinkered. I wish we’d never got back together.’
In 2011, shortly after John was elected to Bridlington council, Jacqui had an MRI scan to investigate loss of hearing and night-time seizures, and was shocked to be told she had a brain tumor.
John was so upset when I phoned him with the news,’ she recalls. ‘He had to pull over in the car he was crying so much.’
John was with her when she underwent radiotherapy in Sheffield to successfully treat the 2cm tumour, but the after-effects continue to this day.
Ever since, she’s suffered seizures, dizziness, tinnitus and extreme fatigue, forcing her to retire from nursing through ill-health.
John was elected deputy mayor in 2014, but Jacqui found herself unable to fully support him in his civic duties.
‘I remember John telling me after I was diagnosed with the brain tumour: “Don’t worry, Jacqui, I will stand by you,”’ she says. In 2015, three weeks before John was elected mayor, Jacqui collapsed at home following a massive seizure.
It was their son, who was home at the time, who called the ambulance.
‘I was so poorly, I was like someone with Alzheimer’s for a couple of weeks,’ she recalls.
‘I was on anti-epileptic drugs, which I shall be on for life, and steroids to reduce inflammation. The steroids caused me to put on three stone — not that I was bothered what I looked like — and my head felt full of polystyrene, but during that time John never dropped one civic engagement.’
Jacqui blames her illness for not noticing the warning signs sooner.
She says she knew Daisy only as a local teenager who belonged to a troupe of amateur performing artists, dressing up as trolls and wearing grotesque masks to entertain crowds at civic events and lark around for the cameras.
So no alarm registered when last year she saw a photograph of Daisy — minus her troll mask — posted on Facebook, showing her wearing John’s mayoral chains, with the caption: ‘Decided being mayor is not for me — I’m sticking to farming.’
‘One day John told me: “Oh, Daisy came up to me in the street and pinched my bum while I was talking to a gentleman.” And I replied: “Aren’t you the lucky one to have such a young admirer?”
‘I thought her a funny little thing, quite plain and nondescript, and I made a joke of it, because why on earth would such a young girl be interested in someone of John’s age? Later, at a civic lunch, I teased him and told everyone, “Oh John’s got a follower called Daisy” — and they started singing the song “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do, I’m half crazy over the love of you”.