Geoff Garner

It is with sadness that we report the death of Geoff Garner, Controller at Jodrell Bank for 32 years until his retirement in 1995. Geoff died at home on 5 November 2017.

Geoff at the recent Lovell Telescope 60th anniversary celebrations, holding a picture of himself behind the Control Desk with Sir Bernard Lovell.

The funeral is on Wednesday 22 November 2017 at 2pm at Bradwell Crematorium, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, ST5 8LE.

Flowers are welcome or if you wish to make a donation in his memory, his family have requested it is to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Any enquiries to:

Joseph Edwards & Sons
Tel. 01270 882097
144/46 Crewe Road

Geoff loved Jodrell Bank and had great respect and admiration for Sir Bernard Lovell, with whom he shared a passion for music. His colleagues remember him as cheerful and welcoming to staff and students with a great sense of humour. 

After Geoff started at Jodrell, he was summoned to Sir Bernard’s office to meet him. As he left, Geoff shook Sir Bernard’s hand and said “It’s been a privilege for you to meet me.” He didn’t realise his mistake until later and decided to leave it, hoping Sir Bernard hadn’t noticed. Sir Bernard never mentioned it until he was giving a speech at Geoff’s retirement, 32 years later, confirming that it had indeed been a privilege and a pleasure.

Geoff was the first Controller to volunteer to run the telescope over Christmas. To say thank you, Sir Bernard’s wife prepared a handsome food parcel which Brian Lovell delivered to Geoff at Jodrell on Christmas Day. Sir Bernard never forgot that commitment and thanked Geoff for it again at the celebrations for 50th anniversary of the Lovell Telescope.

Geoff was involved in several historic events, picking up the Moon landing signals in 1969 a few seconds before NASA and discovering the second pulsar. After Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered the first pulsar in 1967, Jodrell was determined to observe the second. Geoff controlled the telescope through repeated 10 minute scans over the course of three hours without success.  Under protest from scientific colleagues, he locked the telescope into position and took a comfort break. The telescope was still observing and as the earth rotated, the second pulsar to be discovered came into view.

Geoff and Irene celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary the day after the 60th anniversary of the Lovell telescope. They had two daughters, Tracey and Bev, and two grandchildren, Ben and Sammy. Tracey was 1 when Geoff started working at Jodrell and remembers growing up with the telescope, meeting the controllers and having tours of the Control building.

After retirement, Geoff was an active singer, lending his tenor voice to several choirs including St Mary’s Church Choir, Sandbach (his local church), singing everything from Verdi’s Requiem to Gilbert and Sullivan.

Geoff also stayed in touch with his Control Room colleagues, regularly meeting up with Ian Freer, Ian Manfield, Mark Roberts and Andrew “Jock” McKay, John Wheatcroft, Bill Dunston and John Hulse for fish and chips at the Red Lion in Goostrey.

Geoff will be deeply missed by his family, friends and former colleagues.

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