Tribute paid to ‘witty’ and ‘generous’ community stalwart Geoff Orton

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

Tribute has been paid to Westgate resident Geoff Orton who was involved with numerous organisations from The Margate School to Monkton Nature Reserve and Margate Civic Society.

Geoff, who previously worked in book publishing and at the Ministry of Justice, passed away peacefully at his Westgate home, aged 77.

A tribute from The Margate School says: “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.

By Josh Pulman [full image]
“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 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 (speaking) of The Margate School Photo Maria Gilbert

Uwe Derksen, Director of The Margate School, 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.


  1. RIP Geoff the suffering and pain you had to endure recently also thanks for supporting the Margate school The Margate town team and the Margate civic society will be missed by those who new him a jolly and witty man.

  2. Farewell Geoff from all at Monkton Nature Reserve. Your work as a trustee and presence as a friend and supporter will be sorely missed. RIP.

  3. So sorry to hear this news – RIP Geoff, who was a long-time, much-loved and active member of the Isle of Thanet Archaeological Society (IOTAS). He will be sorely missed by all his friends at IOTAS.
    Margaret Symonds, IOTAS Chair

  4. I didnt know Geoff tha well but I do know he was a true champion for the community of Margate. His unique character and perseverance in supporting so many people will be greatly missed.

  5. Geoff was also a stalwart within Thanet CAMRA, he was secretary of the Heritage & Planning sub Committee and his input was invaluable towards 2 assets of community value. He was also aware of Westgate-on-Sea’s Linksfield Town Green and was hoping to explore ways for funding for this area as well as the coastal areas. He will be sorely missed RIP Geoff, a beer or two for you in your local micro The Bake & Alehouse in Westgate-on-Sea 🍻

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