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Geoffrey Phillips (1931-2023)

Gordon Stringer writes: 

10/04/24: Alan Geoffrey Phillips, who has died aged 92, was an outstanding all-round sportsman. With the late RE Strickland, he was a Kinnaird finalist in 1954.

They were defeated by another outstanding Salopian pair, AR Kittermaster and ARB Moulsdale. This was a golden age when all the best games players at Eton fives-playing schools, took up the game in addition to their commitment to cricket, football and hockey. The winners of the Kinnaird the previous year had been the legendary May brothers, Peter and John, who were never beaten in a competitive match. Peter captained the England Test cricket team.

Geoffrey was one of this array of stars: a fine cricketer and footballer as well as fives player; he also excelled at lawn tennis, squash and golf. At Shrewsbury, he batted at number 3 in the XI and bowled leg breaks; was a key member of the football XI and in the fives first pair.

The son of a Shrewsbury master, Alan Phillips, who had been a chemistry teacher and housemaster, Geoffrey had grown up in Shrewsbury. After National Service in which he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, he went up to Worcester College, Oxford to read modern languages.

At the end of his first year, he changed to geography and geology, subjects he was to teach in his later career. He never lost his linguistic talents, and he remained fluent in German and French.

At Oxford, Geoffrey played three matches for the university cricket XI but was not selected for the Varsity match. He also played one match for Shropshire but preferred club cricket, especially that of the Shrewsbury Saracens.

Geoffrey began his teaching career at St Paul’s in London, where he stayed for four years before returning to Shrewsbury in 1960. He taught geography and coached fives, cricket, football and squash. He was master-in-charge of fives for several years in the 1960s and 1970s. He was also a Jester and a member of the EFA Committee.

In 1968 Geoffrey took a two-year sabbatical to teach at Tripoli College in Libya, an English-speaking school, which followed the UK syllabus up to A level. He returned to Shrewsbury to take up his appointment as a housemaster, following in his father’s footsteps.

Geoffrey was married to his first wife, Betty, whom he had met while at Oxford and they had three sons, all of whom were educated at the school. The marriage was dissolved in 1976 and Geoffrey left Shrewsbury to teach at Witham Hall Prep School in Lincolnshire. He remarried and had two more sons. He remained there until 1991when he left to take up a post in Oman where he taught English as a foreign language to guardsmen of the Royal Guard.

Geoffrey retired to Kempsey in Worcestershire, where he died peacefully in 2023.

Gordon Stringer (with acknowledgements to the Phillips Family, The Salopian, Dale Vargas, Richard Barber.)