Sophie-May Cooper is a farmer’s daughter from Yorkshire who knew from a young age that she needed to get away
Born and raised in the English countryside, Sophie-May is a daughter to a Yorkshire farming family. The Coopers farm cows, pigs, sheep and chickens, so it was a surprise to everyone when she announced on her 18th birthday that she had decided to become vegetarian.
“I think it was seeing the process of animal to meat at a young age that really disturbed me,” Sophie-May told our reporters. “A lot of people buy meat at the supermarket and don’t think about where it’s come from or how it has come to be in that state all packaged up before them… Some people don’t even know what kind of animal they are eating.”
It wasn’t just the avoidance of dead animals from her diet that made Sophie-May the talk of the village. We asked some local villagers what they thought.
“Oh, she’s a nice girl… bit strange,” said one woman as she tried to keep her little Yorkshire terrier from jumping up at our reporter.
“Who’s that? Oh, our lad’s young girl, yeah she’s a bit odd,” said an older gentleman in a flat cap and wellies, looking the essence of Yorkshire countryman.
“Yes, not in a bad way she’s just a bit… quirky.
“Yes, quirky that’s the word.”
Sophie-May hasn’t followed in her family’s footsteps and continued with the farming route. Instead, at the first opportunity she packed her bags and left to travel the world. At the age of 14 she took her first trip abroad with her French class and was amazed to find a whole new world outside of Yorkshire.
“I knew after my first taste of travelling that I would find a way to take more trips. My family don’t have much money, so we never took holiday further than Butlin’s in Skegness, but after my trip to France I had a thirst for it. The languages, the food, the people and different cultures, I wanted to go everywhere.”
As soon as she hit 18, Sophie-May started taking au pair jobs in other countries. Her first was in America with a family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“Oh, I absolutely fell in love with that family, I feel so lucky to have started with such an amazing group of people. Both parents were hospital doctors with busy schedules, but they never let their tiredness show, when they were home it was all about the children.”
How many children did they have?
“Three. A seven-year-old girl, a three-year-old boy and a baby boy of one. They were completely different to the children from back home. We were close to the Amish communities and the kids that I was caring for went to Steiner Waldorf schools.
“I remember, I think it was my first week with them, we went to the children’s ‘Fall walk’. It was at night, in the woods and there was a big fire and the children and parents were singing and dancing around it when we arrived, and I distinctly remember thinking to myself ‘what on earth have I got myself into here?’” She laughs as she thinks back to this time.
Sophie-May stayed with the Tripp family in Pittsburgh for one year and learnt a lot from that first experience. Following the year with the Tripps she moved to New York to experience a different part of America and lived with a family in Long Island.
“Same age range, seven-year-old girl, four-year-old girl and one-year-old baby boy. They were almost the opposite of my first host family. Loud Italian New Yorkers. The children in the family didn’t have any electrical or plastic toys, they had all wooden and natural materials.
“The Tripps didn’t even have a television and the children definitely wouldn’t have ever been allowed to play on any kind of computer games! The Daltons however were the most spoilt children that I’ve ever worked with! I loved them because I love all children and I could see that it wasn’t their fault. The parents? Oh gosh, as a farmer’s daughter from Yorkshire I felt like I had just fallen into an episode of the Sopranos! Completely out of my depth but a great learning experience.”
Sophie-May stayed with the Dalton family for three months over the winter, she got to see New York for Christmas and then went home after hearing about the death of her grandmother.
“Nana always want to me to go to Spain, I took Spanish classes while in America and wrote letters to tell her about it. So after her death I knew that Spain should be my next destination.”
In 2014 Sophie-May moved to Madrid to au pair for her third au pair family.