Geoff Mills, 1932-2012

 Geoff Mills at the 2012 Manor Farm RR10

Geoff was born in the Hampshire village of Overton, near Basingstoke, in May 1932. He was always very proud of his rural background and was an expert on his family history, having grown up in the house of his great grandparents. The focus and determination which drove him throughout his life earned him a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge and led to a career as a mechanical engineer at the Esso refinery at Fawley. His work took him, his wife Hilda and family to many different countries, where he always embraced the local culture. A posting to the United States in the 1960's gave him to chance to indulge his passion for steam trains, a stay in Italy fostered his love for fine wines, he enjoyed the cultures of Libya and Saudi Arabia and in the 1980's, learned to sail in the Caribbean, joining the local fishermen on occasions and once a year making the 8 hour crossing to the coast of Venezuela in a one-man dinghy. It was on the island of Aruba that Geoff joined the newly formed Hash House Harriers and discovered a life-long passion for running.

After early retirement, Geoff became a small holder in Beaulieu keeping sheep, chickens and cattle (so that he could exercise his rights as a New Forest commoner). The summer months were spent as a guide at Exbury gardens, driving the golf buggy - providing an exhilarating ride on occasions. Winter months were spent working on several shooting estates in Hampshire as a beater, including a weekly visit to Laverstoke, near Basingstoke, where he first went beating as a young lad. It was a tradition he loved and continued until two weeks before his final, sudden illness.

Geoff lived in Dibden Purlieu and joined the Waterside based running club, Hardley Runners, in 1993. He was a constant competitor in the RR10, CC6 and Hampshire Road Race league events, racing distances from 5 kms to marathons. Geoff raced more regularly than many runners a quarter of his age, competing in at least one race a week, even with all of his other interests. The adjacent photograph shows Geoff running in an RR10 race at Manor Farm earlier this year. He definitely did not look or run like an 80 year old! In 18 years of RR10 participation Geoff ran 139 races, almost 8 out of the maximum 9 per year!

Despite his first stroke he came out to support his running friends at the recent Solent Half Marathon and only 2 weeks ago was striding around Dibden Inclosure encouraging runners in the Hardley CC6 race. Last week Geoff had a second, more severe stroke from which he sadly did not recover.

Geoff was an inspiration not only to the members of Hardley Runners but was respected by all of the local running clubs and will be sadly missed on the local running scene.

Geoff leaves daughters, Sarah and Carole and four grandchildren, Frankie, Cormac, Ollie and Amber. Diana Lushington, his partner for the last 8 years, and her daughters will also miss Geoff’s lively company.

November 2012

 

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