St Edmundsbury Cathedral canon dies following short illness

Father Geoffrey Smith
Father Geoffrey Smith

A St Edmundsbury Cathedral canon and rural dean has died aged 87 following a short illness.

The Rev Canon Geoffrey Smith, of Bury St Edmunds, had celebrated 50 years as a priest in 2016. He died at West Suffolk Hospital on September 19.

Father Geoffrey was a former rector of Newmarket and Walberswick, serving in Newmarket from 1984 until his retirement in 2000. Installed as a canon of the cathedral in the late 1980s, he was rural dean for two deaneries in the diocese.

On his retirement he moved to Bury and continued to minister and conduct services in nearby parishes and villages, as well as the cathedral. He was also honorary chaplain for a number of local organisations.

In 2009, Father Geoffrey was a recipient of the Queen’s Maundy Money when the cathedral was the location for the Royal Maundy service.

Father Geoffrey was born in March, Cambridgeshire, in 1930 and attended Long Eaton Grammar School. He married Elizabeth in 1955 and attended theological college at Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, from 1963.

“It was his parishioners that he cared about most. He rarely, if ever, forgot a face or a name. He estimated that during his 50 years as a priest he must have conducted about a thousand baptisms, weddings and funerals,” said his daughter Hilary.

In his younger days he was a supporter of Nottingham Forest Football Club and Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, and remained an avid cricket follower all his life. He was also a keen bell-ringer and chorister and read widely.

He is survived by five children and seven grandchildren.

A requiem mass and funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church, Newmarket, on October 12 at noon, followed by cremation. Family flowers only. Donations to The Bishop’s Trust Fund, Age UK Suffolk, Lord’s Taverners and ME Association c/o Southgate of Newmarket .