The Archdeacon of Hertford writes:
THE Revd Geoffrey Tickner, who died on 8 September 2012, aged
57, was a Surrey boy, who went to Guildford Grammar School. He
trained for ordination at St Michael's College, Llandaff, and was
awarded the degree of Bachelor of Divinity by the University of
Wales. Ordained in 1982, he served his title in Guildford diocese,
under the supervision of Christopher Herbert, who was later his
diocesan bishop when Geoff moved to St Albans diocese.
After serving his first curacy at St Thomas on the Bourne, he
moved to a second at All Saints', Grayswood, in Surrey, and
assisted at Grayswood Studio. In 1990, he was appointed Vicar of
All Saints', New Haw, Surrey. The large Victorian vicarage housed
Geoff's substantial collection of books. When still a bachelor, he
was supported by his parents, Margaret and John, who regularly
joined the parishioners for special occasions.
His caring personality and pastoral skills, with a clear sense
of order and administrative ability, made him a good candidate for
the post of Rural Dean of Runnymede, which he held from 1998 to
Geoff felt that it was time to go to a new parish, and was
appointed Priest-in-Charge of Holy Trinity and Christ the King,
Stevenage, in 2002. While the parish offered challenges, the church
itself stands in the historic coaching High Street of the charming
Old Town of Stevenage. Besides the parish church, with high
standards in liturgy and pastoral care, which was an excellent
training base for assistant clergy, there was the less traditional
Christ the King, one of the local ecumenical partnerships in
Stevenage, shared with Roman Catholics.
Geoff continued to pursue his long-held convictions in promoting
lay ministry, and encouraging and supporting those engaged in
pastoral work and outreach. He promoted vocations, and nurtured
several candidates on their path to ordination. He became Rural
Dean of Stevenage in 2006, a ministry that he exercised with great
care and diligence. He gave special support to parishes that were
In 2009, he was elected chairman of the House of Clergy for St
Albans diocesan synod, which brought his skills and experience on
to the wider canvas of diocesan life, where he served on the
Bishop's Council and its agenda group.
Geoff was diagnosed with cancer in April 2011 and decided, on
medical advice, to retire later that year. He became an Hon. Canon
of St Albans Cathedral in November 2011, on a day of joy tempered
by mixed emotions, as by then his earthly days were numbered.
Geoff was a thoughtful man, who had a charming shyness. He
supported parishioners working with young people, the choir and
servers, or in outreach. He also had a fine singing voice that was
an enhancement of worship, in which he embraced modern and
traditional styles that were accessible and inclusive. He was
practical, and led parish working parties to keep the church fabric
in good order. Whatever he did arose from an inner strength and a
In August 1992, he announced his marriage to one of his
parishioners, Sarah Brown. The delight of the parish of New Haw was
made evident by the church hall's being full to bursting when a
celebratory parish lunch was held when the couple returned from
their honeymoon. Geoff loved canal boats, and passed this love on
to Sarah. Together, they led several parish weekends on the canals,
and later bought a share in their own canal boat,
Victorious. This interest, with his concern for the young,
led to Geoff's accepting an invitation to become a trustee of the
former St Albans Diocesan Community Project, now "Reach Out Plus",
a charity that owns canal boats offering disadvantaged and disabled
young people and their carers a break. Geoff could steer and moor a
70-foot canal boat in a tight space with confidence.
He and Sarah had a love of travel, and visited China; Norway,
with parishioners from Stevenage; and Tanzania, on sabbatical
leave. In Tanzania, Geoff, with typical versatility, mixed the
practical with the spiritual, working on school and church projects
one day, and leading liturgy the next.
Their last great trip, to New Zealand, where they narrowly
escaped the earthquake in Christchurch, was taken shortly before
Geoff's illness was diagnosed. In spring 2012, even though they
knew that his illness was terminal, they travelled on the Swiss
railways through the Alps.
Geoff was kind, good, loving, and generous; a faithful and
diligent priest. He was a quiet man, with a depth of spirituality,
who always created a centre of calm and prayerfulness. He was
confident in his faith to the end. Reflecting his calibre,
sensitivity, and spirituality, his mother said on the day of his
funeral, "he prepared us all for this moment."
Our prayers are with his widow Sarah and the family. May he rest
in peace and rise with all God's saints in glory.