Geoff Gill – A great rugby man and a stalwart of the Society
Geoff joined the Society in 1981 having played and refereed at his club, Toc H, for many years.
He was happy to take an active part in the organisation and administration, initially running the South Group when there were North and South Area meetings in addition to the monthly Society meetings. However, the real highlight was the call at the Legh Arms in Sale Moor for an after-meeting pint or two, where the Game, the Society and the World would be put to rights with John Jeskins, Geoff Cove and Geoff Elliott.
Geoff took up the role of Hon. Secretary in 2002 and whilst new to the Society Executive was soon offering administrative efficiency, wry humour and wise counsel in his quiet, gentlemanly fashion. He continued in the role for 15 years which proved to be the second longest term in that office.
He carried out the increasingly onerous duties of secretary meticulously and was rightly honoured by being elected President in 2015.
That same calming influence was brought to his refereeing on the park. He never reached great heights as a referee but was a real “players’ referee”, appreciated for his refereeing skills and was well-respected wherever he went and he went on for many years! A number of us were coy about our real ages, but Geoff certainly had a very good innings. He was still refereeing into his 80’s. He was dedicated to his refereeing and would put himself out, making himself available for lower grade midweek matches if there were late cry-offs.
After he gave up the whistle, he took up the coaching/assessing of new referees, passing on valuable advice and practical tips gained from his years of experience. He was an excellent trainer, mentor and good friend, taking groups of new referees through the basics of survival.
Geoff was also a keen golfer, playing for the Society at Ullesthorpe Court and Staining Lodge in support of SOS Kit Aid. Roger Bowden proudly records that they were successful in collecting a few wooden spoons together!
Further afield he played at Royal Durban Golf Club, kindly arranged by KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Rugby Union during the Society exchange visit in April 2012. On the KZN exchange Geoff was not only a fine ambassador for the Society but also an active match official, touch judging in the magnificent setting of Thomas More College, Kloof, on the hills overlooking Durban. He thereby achieved his ambition to officiate in South Africa.
Geoff will be missed by his many friends in the Game, not only in the Society but also at Toc H, where he was a lifelong member. This has been exemplified by the messages of condolence from the Lancashire and Cheshire RFUs, together with a number of clubs and members of the Society. The words that resonate and have been repeated time and again are “true gentleman”, “well respected”, “wonderful person”, “lovely man”, “considerate of others”, “great rugby man”, “unwavering commitment”, “great company” and “dedicated to rugby and to the Society”.
Geoff was a stalwart of the Society; he was a gentleman and an example to us all.
We shall miss him.