Dr Geoffrey Tapper – our tribute

Dr Tapper.PNG

Thanks to all who came to my Father’s memorial service yesterday at Bell Street Methodist Church. This is our tribute to my father.



My father believed he was under an obligation to serve the public. This belief came from his upbringing as the son of a Methodist minister, as a survivor of tuberculosis as a child growing up in Bedchester and as someone who considered himself privileged in being given a fine education at Priors Court and then Kingswood in Bath.

Those in this church today recognise that he fulfilled the obligation he considered himself under. It manifested itself in his life through his career as a Doctor and his political activities, most notably as Leader of Dorset County Council.

My personal definition of “hard work” references my father’s appointment book when he was a GP. The Red A4 diaries would often have over 40 house calls in a day. Many of his patients relied on a visit from Dr Tapper. The visit was as important as the treatment. Throughout the sixties, seventies and for most of the 1980s, Dr Tapper’s mini wove the lanes between Ashmore, Iwerne, Fontmell and across the Blackmore Vale. This service went way beyond anything that could be called a job description – it was a duty that he carried out happily.

When my father retired as a Doctor, he did not relent in the pace of his attack. In an interview, he gave to the Guardian in 2001 he explained that when he unexpectedly became the first Liberal leader of Dorset County Council, he discovered that the existing council had been underspending their social services budget by 23%. He told the Guardian

The Tories had been spending the money on roads. I admit that since my time as leader, the roads in Dorset have deteriorated and I’m not ashamed of that.’

My father was the opposite of a “woolly liberal”, he got things done.

People in Shaftesbury know him for his work providing secure accommodation for older folk. Butts Mead House, Chubbs were early projects, but it was Castle Hill House and then the Cedars – which are his most remarkable legacy in Shaftesbury. His understanding of geriatric medicine, his political nouse and that sense of public duty made growing old in and around Shaftesbury – a lot easier.

Everything he was involved in, Refereeing for North Dorset RFC , Norcat, Lindlar Hall the St Johns Ambulance and latterly his Bridge Clubs, benefited from his involvement. He never gave less than everything. That was part of his public service obligation

But to him, his work as a doctor and politician came second to his devotion to Methodism. As a practicing Christian he bore witness to his faith in a caring and loving God. His Christianity was practical and effective, it was consistent in the way he brought up his family as it was in his work as a Methodist local preacher.

He was a man of letters, a president of the Hardy Society, a postal historian and a philatelist. He was a vicarious walker and sang in the style of King Louis, that he was the king of the Ramblers. He was a botanist and a gifted recorder player, he was a lusty singer – especially in these pews.

Following my tribute, my brother Albert will be reading something he created. He was a gifted versifier and – as you will hear –his verses sometimes became poems.

He was a County rugby player, a village cricketer and a very poor golfer. He could not be beaten at table tennis.

He leaves behind him four children, all of whom are here today, but the most important person in his life was my mother, who you all know. As well as being a dedicated doctor, a fierce politician and a polymath – my father was a good judge.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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8 Responses to Dr Geoffrey Tapper – our tribute

  1. Peter Tompkins says:

    I’m so moved by your tribute I almost feel I knew him. You are all very fortunate to have had such a father and your mother such a companion. My condolences.

  2. Andy Weaver says:

    Very sorry to hear of your loss but what memories he left you all. I was lucky enough to have met him and this is a suitably beautiful tribute to a fine man.

  3. henry tapper says:

    We also need to catch up!

  4. Eugen Neagu says:

    God rest him in peace!

    Spoke with Dr Sue Daddy from Shaftesbury and she said I may have met your father once in her house when I was a lodger there when we came in the UK in 2005. Cannot remember for sure, but I am told he was a very respected man in Shaftesbury.

    • henry tapper says:

      That house is well known to me, my father crashed his mini outside – with me inside (the mini). Sue was at the Memorial Service – I ddn’t realise there was this connection!

  5. Clucas, Jill says:

    Dear Henry

    I found your tribute to your father very moving. What an amazing life of public service he lead. Please accept my condolences.

    I was reminded of my own father, Kenneth Clucas, whom we sadly lost in 2010. He was also the son of a Methodist minister and was educated at Kingswood. You may know that during WW2 Kingswood was relocated, to allow the school buildings to be used in the war effort. My father stayed at school an extra year as Head Boy to assist with the move, before joining the army. Following a career in the civil service, he became heavily involved in the early stages of financial services regulation and with the National Association of Citizens’ Advice Bureaux. He believed passionately in looking after the needs of the ordinary man or woman on the street. I’m sure he’d have agreed with many of the comments in your blogs.

    Kingswood clearly got something very right!

    With kind regards


    Jill Clucas

    PSL Counsel

    Hogan Lovells International LLP
    Atlantic House
    Holborn Viaduct
    London EC1A 2FG


    +44 20 7296 2000


    +44 20 7296 5869


    +44 20 7296 2001





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  6. William says:

    What a wonderful tribute Henry. I wish that I had met your father.

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