Geoffrey was born in Sheffield on 13th August 1930. His parents Harold and Mabel Hurst attended St Timothy’s parish, Church of England in Slinn St Crooks where Geoffrey later became a server. Harold was a storekeeper at the steelworks and Mabel was a conductor on the trams and also worked in the cinema as a chief cashier – Geoffrey had free rides on the tram and never paid to get into the cinema on a Saturday matinee!
Geoffrey attended Sheffield Junior Technical School from 1943-46, then High Storrs Grammar School from 1946-48. He did his National Service in the Royal Army Medical Corp and afterwards he worked in an engineering office as a draftsman.
Geoffrey became part of the community of St Cecily’s Parson Cross Sheffield which was established by the Kelham Fathers and had the largest artisan population in the Anglican Diocese of Sheffield at the time. It was here that Geoffrey developed his empathy for the marginalized and under privileged which was to become a hallmark of his later ministry and inspired him to train for ordained ministry. His son Mark provides in insight here; to support the family financially whilst he was training Geoffrey had a part time job selling ice cream, however, dad was sacked because he was too generous with the helpings for the children. Geoffrey attended St Aiden’s Theological College and was ordained deacon in 1964 and priested in 1965.
Whilst at St Cecily’s Geoffrey met Sheila and they married 8th July 1961. Their son Richard was born in 1962, Rachel in 1964 and mark in 1970. Richard tells a story of his dad’s love for caravanning. ‘He added beds to our first caravan to convert from 4 birth to 5, done with great ingenuity and made a toilet out of an old orange frying oil tin to go into the toilet tent’.
Geoffrey was appointed Vicar of St marks Wellingborough. This is where Vicki and I first met the family. I had completed my training to be a licenced lay minister in the Anglican Church and Fr Geoffrey was the first parish priest I served. Any subsequent positives in my ministry stem from the training, guidance and encouragement Geoffrey gave me. We became godparents to Mark and Sheila godmother to our eldest daughter, Natasha.
From Wellingborough Fr. Geoffrey moved to be the Industrial Chaplain to the Bishop of Leicester and then to minister in parishes in Willenhall. Hoyland and Moorends. In 1994, on a matter of principle Geoff resigned his Anglican orders. Subsequently he and Sheila were received into the Catholic Church and regularly attended St Marie’s Cathedral Sheffield.
Geoffrey continued to have a strong calling to the ordained priesthood and over the years this was discerned. As a part of this process it was my delight to write a letter in support of Geoff to Bishop John and then on the 8th November 2003 to attend his ordination in St Marie’s Cathedral.
Fr. Geoffrey went on to faithfully minister in Rotherham at the parishes of the Immaculate Conception, St Mary’s Maltby and Blessed Trinity Wickersley. He was known as a very caring priest. Fr Geoffrey retired to live in Hinckley Leicestershire to be near his daughter Rachel. He continued to preside at mass in the local Catholic parish until prevented by ill health.
Geoffrey’s wife Sheila died in October, lifelong partners sharing together 60 years of married life, the loss of Sheila was immense for Geoffrey. It was not very long afterwards, 8th November, the 19th anniversary of his ordination when Geoffrey also died. Together they journeyed through life, together they lay before the altar on the day of their funeral; together they were laid to rest in Ecclesfield, near to where their life together began.
Back in 1970 when I left the parish, Fr. Geoffrey presented me with a prayer book. In it he had inscribed words from St Paul sent to Timothy, ‘keep that which is committed to thy trust’. It is a text which Fr Geoffrey faithfully maintained throughout his life and ministry. A faithful priest, in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ and humanity. Amen.