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Geoff Orton (1946 to 2023)


Geoff Orton
Geoff Orton - A portrait by Josh Pulman as part of the "Festive Light" project

It is with great sadness that we announce that our supporter and friend Geoff Orton has passed away peacefully at his home in Westgate-on-Sea. Geoff only recently turned 77.


Geoff has been instrumental in the success of The Margate School from the very early days until very recently when his illness made it increasingly difficult for him to participate in the School’s affairs. His contributions are too numerous to list but they include supporting early funding bid development, endless exhibition invigilator support, organising some of the most interesting conferences and connecting people. 


Alongside his unwavering support of The Margate School he was active with many other organisations and initiatives, including as Honorary Secretary of the Margate Civic Society, as a trustee of Monkton Nature Reserve and being much involved with Margate Town Team, Margate Museum, Margate Rotary Club raising funds for the Thanet Young Artists Festival, ARK, Margate’s Clock Tower and the local book club. He had previously worked in book publishing and at the MoJ.


He was a keen supporter of regenerating Margate’s High Street, he batted for Margate wherever he could and if not formally awarded for his services to Margate, many people in Margate awarded him and no doubt will award him their heartfelt thanks.  His focus at TMS was helping to de-ghost Margate High Street, supporting the growing creative community and easing community challenges, especially through skills for employment.


Uwe Derksen, Director of The Margate School, passed his condolences to Geoff‘s family on behalf of the TMS community and said:  “Geoff was not only a staunch supporter and believer in The Margate School, he was a dear personal friend. Normally around this time of year we would plan for a festive meal at a local pub to see off the year and discuss ideas for the year ahead. I will miss his contribution ranging from sweeping the floor when we first occupied the Woolworths building to supporting fundraising, including the Coastal Community Fund bid that got TMS ‘off the ground’. He supplied endless anecdotes, provocative, witty and challenging arguments and was excellent company for the occasional pint or two at the Fez in Margate or the Bake n Ale House in Westgate. He would supply me and many others with the latest policy reports and developments, funding opportunities, public realm research reports, all with the odd Latin phrase thrown in here and there. He threw in his intelligent weight and thought provoking comments periodically and almost to his last day! He had a great legal mind and was incredibly generous to anyone who needed or wished to receive his advice. He passed away peacefully surrounded by hundreds of his books, some he donated to the School’s library over the years Geoff, we will truly miss you and thank you for everything.”


The Margate School will be organising a farewell event in honour of Geoff. Details to follow.

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