Geoffrey Parker (5 March 1934 - 4 September 2001)
Geoffrey Robert Parker was born in 1934, a new addition to a family which had lived in the same house in Nettleham (near Lincoln) since 1740. His grandfather had rung at Nettleham in pre-war years, and Geoffrey learned to ring there immediately after the war. His father was a keen ringer and they would cycle together all over the county to meetings. They regularly rang at St Giles, Lincoln as well at Nettleham, and it was there that he met Margaret, who was later to become his wife. There they came under the influence of Jack Millhouse, and were members of his band which pushed the boundaries of Surprise Major ringing within the area, and, like so many of the St Giles band, he became a member of the Lincoln Cathedral Company of Ringers.
In the 1950s we were part of the band of the late John E. Cook who was organising peals and cycling/ringing tower grabs in the Lincoln area, the latter leading to the formation of the Rambling Ringers. Geoffrey joined the Ramblers in the early days, and over his last few years we again enjoyed touring with them, no longer cycling but camping in our home-converted caravette.
Geoffrey joined the Lincoln Diocesan Guild in 1947, and was Master of the Guild from 1992 until his death, representing the Guild on the Central Council since 1993. As Guild Master he travelled almost every Saturday to Branch meetings, and a large number of ringers expressed their gratitude for the help and encouragement he gave them. He would chat with people about their own concerns, and he knew as individuals all the members of the Guild who supported Guild and Branch activities.
He saw his ringing first and foremost as service to the church, and he was saddened by those few who rang peals but did not ring for service or help to encourage new ringers. Having said that, he enjoyed his peal ringing. In the early days he rang a great deal with Jack Millhouse. They rang many high quality peals, 'blazing the trail'. These included only the second peal of Londinium ever to be rung and a very early peal of Glasgow (at that time the peak of achievements). Geoffrey rang 1888 peals ranging from Doubles to Maximus, 866 of them with Jack Millhouse (who conducted 572 of them), and 619 with his wife. He rang 1549 for the Lincoln Guild and 44 for the Cumberlands. His first was 10 Minor at Blankney on 11th November 1949, and his last, coincidentally also 10 Minor, at Quadring on 21st August 2001. He was also content, especially in his later years, to ring more mundane peals to help others along the road. He would regularly travel to towers 30 or 40 miles away to strengthen the band for someone's first or first in the method, seeing this as a way to foster the art. Because he hated waiting for people who were late, he always made every effort to be punctual himself. He preferred to arrive early and relax before the start of the peal. It became the joke that if you arrived before him, you must have got the wrong day. (He was taken into the Cathedral the night before the funeral. This led one of the congregation, on seeing the coffin already before the altar, to remark, "And he's got here first again!")
Well over 200 people attended the funeral which took place on 12th September in Lincoln Cathedral where he regularly worshipped. The Dean spoke movingly of the faith in the resurrection, and pointed out that it was this faith that had led Geoffrey to request no half muffled ringing or black to be worn at his funeral. Unfortunately his request led to there being no ringing at all because of the destruction by terrorists of the twin towers in New York the previous day. Geoffrey had been very conscious of the public relations aspect of ringing, and we felt it would have troubled him if we caused offence to the public by ringing open that day.
Geoffrey was a very private and unassuming person. He never pushed himself forward, yet did far more than many people realised without fuss.