1928 – 2014

S. Geoffrey Waters was born on 3rd June 1928 at Hawkhurst, Kent where his father ran the local grocery business and his uncle was a partner in the family haulage concern.

Geoffrey attended a local church primary school, then at aged 11 he moved to Judd’s School, Tonbridge travelling on the old Hawkhurst railway. However, due to World War II restrictions, he was only able to manage two days a week. After school, he attended agricultural college and from there he went on to manage his parent’s farm at Biddenden.

Geoffrey learnt to ring during his teenage years joining the Kent County Association of Change Ringers, a Society that he maintained his membership for over 60 years. He rang his first peal on 30th November 1946 at Northiam, conducted by William Gorringe. Over the next ten years, Geoffrey rang half of his total 140 peals and became a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths.

Geoffrey married Jill Haffenden in 1956.  They had two sons, Nigel born 1959 and Jonathan born 1963. Having the family and work commitments slowed up Geoffrey’s peal ringing and over the next 40 years, he rang the remaining half of his peal total.

Geoffrey’s personal three outstanding peal performances were:

4th August 1951: Ringing the 46cwt tenor at Sherborne to the then longest peal on the bells of 5376 Plain Bob Major in 4 hours 15 minutes.

12th January 1952: Ringing the 72cwt tenor with a strapper behind to Grandsire Triples at Exeter Cathedral, at the time he believed the heaviest bells ever rung to an 8-bell peal.

15th December 1973: A peal of Grandsire Triples at Hawkhurst with six first pealers, one of whom was the conductor aged 15.

Following a sad time in his life where Geoffrey and his wife separated, some considerable time passed before Geoffrey met Jane through Hawkhurst Tennis Club where they were both avid players. They were married in 1984 at Tunbridge Wells Registry Office and moved to Wittersham where he remained for the rest of his life.

Geoffrey became a member of Wittersham tower, where he served membership for over 25 years and was incredibly supportive. In later years, Geoffrey’s passion was to teach people how to ring. Bar a couple of members, Geoffrey taught the entire Wittersham band and over his lifetime, he taught hundreds this skill.

From a personal perspective, Geoffrey taught myself and my sisters how to ring and always maintained a high standard of bell control and technique. His commitment each week to ensure that we always achieved our best was remarkable. Geoffrey was a keen subscriber to The Ringing World and liked to follow the progress and achievements of those ringers he had taught. After I married and moved away from Wittersham, I was particularly humbled when I received a letter from Geoffrey congratulating me on recent peal achievements, in which he was proud that I was helping others achieve their first peals.

In the last years of his life, Geoffrey was forced to give up bell ringing and his other physical activities when he was diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, although he kept coming to support others at practice night. Eventually, Geoffrey was to succumb to this disease and died peacefully on

7th February 2014.

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers