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CANON GEOFFREY JOHN TICKNER

by
15 February 2013

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 2002.

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 between incumbents.

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 gentle kindness.

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.

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