Geoffrey Blyth Player PDG, LDS RCS(Eng) PHF .....kindly researched and submitted by Rotarian Ray Reynolds

Proudly displaying the following medals:

1. Order of St John "Serving Brother" awarded for being President of Grays Men's Division for many years

2. Originally awarded to the British Expeditionary Force 1939-1940

3. France and Germany Star given to all who gave active service in either country

4. Defence Medal for everyone who served in any of the Forces.

5. For Active Service in the 21st Army Group in Normandy and onwards into Germany. Incorporated Oak Leaf signifies "Mentioned in Despatches"

6. Territorial Army Long Service - joined 1938

7. The Normandy Star for Active Service in Normandy in early days of the Invasion

Geoff passed away on the 26th October 2012 at the age of 96.

He was born 26th June 1916 in Highgate, London. Son of William, a qualified accountant and Lillian. One year later the family moved to Rickmansworth because a Zeppelin dropped its bombs and hit a house a few doors away! In 1921 Geoff moved to Horndon on the Hill.

He started at Collegiate School in Stanford and then, aged 9 he moved to Palmers Boys College in the Prep forms. Passing the 11+ examination well, he won a scholarship to Palmers and eventually achieved 4 ‘A’s at A Level which won him a major scholarship to the City of London hospital. He then went on to the Eastman Dental Clinic (which was then part of the Royal Free Hospital) in 1938.

In the beginning of 1939 the Territorial Army was asking for volunteers and as Geoff had been part of the Palmers College Cadet Force he became a member. Being a dentist gave him an automatic commission and he joined the army reserve but while on holiday in Bournemouth he went to the cinema and in the middle of the performance a military policeman came out on stage and ordered all territorials to report to the cinema office directly after the show. He was told to return home and await instructions and a day later he was commanded to report to Aldershot Barracks.

In January 1940 he was posted to Le Havre, France with the British Expeditionary Force where he found that he was one of the very few officers not from Harley Street! When the Germans broke through the Maginot Line the hospital moved to Cherbourg but shortly after arrival his commanding officer came in and told them they were about to be overrun and any officer under the age of 30 could make their way to the coast. Five of them were given a 15cwt truck, some petrol and rations. They drove around little harbours for two days and eventually found a belgian fishing boat whose Captain was prepared try and make it back to England. On arrival in Southampton they reported to the War Office who informed him that they thought he had been captured in Le Havre!

After leave he was posted to Aberdeen Dental Centre (just outside the HQ of the Gordon Highlanders) and being a devout Christian he attended the local church regularly where he met his first wife Betty who had worked for John Lewis in London until she and her mother were bombed out during the blitz and they ended up, as luck would have it, in Aberdeen. Romance blossomed and they were married in November 1941. They had two children, Ann and Richard.
In 1943 Geoff was posted to the Maxillo-Facial Hospital in Kilmarnock on the recommendation of pioneering plastic surgeon Professor Laurence Mcindoe,  whom Geoff had previously trained under in East Grinstead and he was promoted to Major.

In June 1944 Geoff took part in the Normandy Invasion and went right through to Bruges then on to Brussels before returning to take over as Principal of the Eastman Dental Clinic. (During the Normandy campaign he was ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ for meritorious service.)

Retiring from army service, eventually he started a dental practice in Orsett Road, Grays and worked here until his retirement in 1982.
Geoff was very much involved in the local community. In the great floods of 1953 the Grays Thurrock Rotary Club were giving help and support where they could. Geoff was to be found in a rowing boat collecting stranded people from bedroom windows in Tilbury and taking them to the assembly point at Chadwell Hill. One boy was at the window waving to attract his attention and heard his mother asking what was happening. “It’s the dentist - come to rescue us!” he shouted.

He played tennis, bowls, cricket and took part in motor rallies and amateur dramatics. He was on the Road Safety Committee and was President of the Grays Mens Division of St Johns Ambulance, and was awarded the Order of St John. 

He was invited to join Rotary in 1948 and became President of the Club in 1955.  In 1957 he was invited to be District 8 Committee Chairman and he attended the International Rotary Convention in Toronto in 1964

In 1962 he was up for District Governor but unfortunately his loving wife Betty passed away and Geoff felt unable to contest the position but still attended district meetings whenever he could.
Meanwhile at club level Geoff along with Stan Deats helped to form our links with Voorschoten - Leidschendam, Holland and he helped to set up on behalf of the club - SARAH, a club for young disabled people.

Geoff, finally became District Governor in 1988.  On the night of the induction he was also presented with the Paul Harris Fellowship from Grays Thurrock. He was, of course, determined to be a very good District Governor and put his heart and soul into the position. At the end of his year he invited all club Presidents and their partners within the District to join him for a now, memorable dinner at Orsett Hall to thank them for their help and support throughout his year.

Latterly he moved to Rayleigh and was seconded into the Rotary Club there but then moved on to the Leigh Rotary Club. In recognition of 60 years in Rotary he was presented with a PHF inlaid with a single sapphire.

In his personal life Geoff married again to Jean and there were two children, Andrew and Katie. They were subsequently divorced but in 1993 he was married again to Beryl who passed away in 2010.