27/03/1926 - 24/12/2014

With the passing of Geoff on Christmas Eve the Ely Diocesan Association lost one of its longest serving members.

Apart from being called up towards the end of the Second World War to do his time in the Army from where he volunteered to be a parachutist (to quote Geoff “in parachute drops there’s no reverse gear and failure is not an option”) Geoff lived all his life in the Cambridgeshire village of Willingham. In the early 1950s Geoff leant to ring there and soon came under the influence of the legendary Mansfield (Mac) Ginn from the neighbouring tower of Over. Mac called Geoff’s first peal at Willingham on 20th March 1954. It was around this time that ringers from Sutton-in-the-Isle which included the two Dons (Knights and Murfet) started attending Friday night practices at Willingham. Mac, Geoff, the Dons and later Roger Palmer formed the backbone of the Ely District for many years. They encouraged and helped many ringers over the years including the writer and George Thoday.

Geoff was a keen participant in peals even though his overall total of 346 may seem low by today’s standards. He was a particularly effective ‘n-1’ ringer usually with Mac or George Thoday at the helm. Apart from one peal covering to Grandsire Caters and eight at 5-bell towers all his peals were rung on six or eight bells where he rang a wide variety of methods. Somewhat unusually Geoff never struck a blow in either Grandsire or Stedman. On one occasion when attending a meeting at a neighbouring Association Geoff was asked to ring some Grandsire to which his response was “I can’t ring it”. You can imagine the chagrin of the Ringing Master when Geoff caught hold for the next touch which was one of London.

Somewhat fortuitously I rang in Geoff’s last peal whilst many years earlier he had rung in my own first peal.

Away from ringing Geoff was a very keen sportsman in his younger days playing cricket for Willingham and football for both Willingham and semi-professionally for Histon.

He enjoyed days attending test matches. For a while he was Churchwarden at Willingham. He also had a fine singing voice singing in the Church choir and will be remembered especially for his rendering of ‘Green Grow the Rushes Oh’ after a few noggins.

The packed church at Willingham for his funeral on a cold January day showed the respect in which he was held for he was always good company. Peals rung in his memory included one on Tyneside conducted by the writer and one in Sheffield conducted by Richard Knights (son of Don) (p.163).

Geoff will be sadly missed, especially by Margaret, Patricia and David and their families. He is best described by the words of Patricia, his daughter, in her eulogy at the funeral: “he had a real sense of fair play in life, a great sense of humour and was a sporting gentleman.”


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