NEIL Dennis Bruce-Copp OBE, who died on December 31, 2008, aged 66, was a prominent businessman, generous benefactor of numerous charities and a keen sportsman Bruce-Copp was the founder, chairman and chief executive of Targus Group Plc, the internationally known portable PC and computer case Company, which he built into an organisation exporting to over 110 countries with a turnover well in excess of £100m per annum.

In 1996, Bruce-Copp sold Targus in order to allow the Company to expand and to devote more time with his wife, Monique, to supporting worthy causes through the NBC Winner Foundation, his family’s Charitable Trust. He did not in any case want to become a corporate man, preferring instead to take forward initiatives in his inimitable style rather than fall into a bureaucratic mould.

Bruce-Copp was born in Burnham, Buckinghamshire but his formative years were spent in Ilfracombe, Devon, where his family had connections in the transport industry dating back to the 1850’s, ran the local coaching operations and introduced the first charabanc to the area. He was taught at Wellington School, where he demonstrated his prowess on the rugby field and developed many life long friendships. Following the death of his father, Bruce-Copp left Wellington with a strong work ethic and after a spell at the Westminster Catering College abruptly changed tack to join Diversity (Chemical) Ltd in Marketing and Sales. Here he found his true vocation with long assignments abroad in Canada and India, before returning home on promotion as the group’s director.

He later joined Barrow Hepburn and Gale PLC, the leather tanning business, as their managing director, before progressing to become the youngest ever chief executive of British Luggage Group PLC, the World’s second largest luggage company with ownership of the Crown, Revelation and Victor brands. His achievements were recognised as The Guardian Young Businessman of the Year (second place).

In 1982, whilst returning to London from Leicester on a train without anything to read, he had to make do with a trade magazine lying on an adjacent seat.

This contained advertisements for ICL and IBM computers, which his innovative mind queried how they were protected from dirt, dust and damage whilst on the road with the sales force. The answer was: they weren’t. Within the year, Bruce-Copp had invented the PC carrying case, which we all see today; obtained orders from IBM and ICL and founded the Targus Group.

His success was recognised by the Queens Award for Export Achievement in 1989, third position in the Independent on Sunday “Top 100” Growth Companies in 1994, the National Westminster and Financial Times Exporter of Excellence Award in 1995, and the Financial Times Venturer of the year Award in 1996.

Having achieved commercial success, Bruce-Copp set about applying his time, expertise, and drive to improving the life of others, by founding the NBC Winner Foundation, a private charity for disadvantaged and disabled children.

In 1998, his Foundation made a £2m donation to the Sargent charity to help fund a vocational and recreational centre for young adults with cancer and their families, with Bruce-Copp taking an active part in its implementation and operation alongside his wife, Monique, and also contributing substantially to its running costs.

The centre was formally opened by the then Prime Minister’s wife, Cherie Booth QC, in the presence of the then constituency Member of Parliament, the Rt Hon Sir Edward Heath KG.

Bruce-Copp also applied his energy, expertise and money to providing the Faure-Alderton Romanian Appeal (FARA) with a new home in Suceava for orphaned and abandoned children.

Simultaneously becoming a Governor of his old school, Wellington, and whilst chairing several other appeal committees, spearheaded the Appeal to raise £2m towards the cost of an Olympic standard sports facility for the use of the school and local children, including disadvantaged children in partnership with Ability and Sporting Disability, South-West.

The building was subsequently opened by HRH The Princess Royal, the main sporting arena is named The Neil Bruce-Copp Hall in recognition of his outstanding efforts.

He then set about cycling from London to Paris and then London to Brussels (several times) on behalf of the Royal British Legion, and around the Arctic Circle with his son Jonathan and two longstanding friends, for the Royal Star and Garter Home, Richmond. Bruce-Copp was particularly appalled that children’s hospices, which provide essential palliative and respite care for around 4,300 children with life limiting conditions and their families, rely overwhelmingly on public support with only small, unpredictable contributions from the Government.

His response was to badger the Prime Minister, Opposition leaders, and Members of Parliament with the creation of The Fair Play Campaign for Children, which seeks to provide children’s hospices with guaranteed, long term funding that will enable them to provide services, free of charge, to current and future generations of children who will die before they reach adulthood.

More local to home, Bruce-Copp raised monies for the installation of a disabled access and facilities at his local church, St Andrews, Ham Common.

He was also a sports enthusiast and benefactor and promoted the role of sport in the local community as player, Captain, Chairman and then President of the Barnes Rugby Football Club, whilst also serving as vice president of both Esher RFC and Teddington Cricket Club. He was a member of the MCC.

He believed passionately in his country and was instrumental in founding the Richmond Park Branch of the Royal Society of St George, an organisation dedicated to promoting all that is virtuous about England under the patronage of HM The Queen. He was an active member of the Court of the Worshipful Company of Carmen and Chairman of the Apprentices and a member of the London Rotary Club.

In 2005, he was made an OBE in recognition of his outstanding contribution to charity. Neil Dennis Bruce-Copp died on December 31, 2008, after a long battle with cancer.

His wife, Monique, and son and daughter from his first marriage survive him.