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Pater Ludorum Geoffrey Corlett dies at 86

Sun, 26 Aug 2012

Our Pater Ludorum (Father of the Games), Geoffrey Corlett died on Wednesday 22nd August 2012 at the age of 86.

Our Family has lost its Father, the Isle of Man has lost an enthusiastic Manxman and the world of sport has lost a role model. Geoff Corlett died at the age or 86 leaving devastated releatives and shocked friends behind him. Geoff was the essence of health, life and curiosity. No matter what project he undertook he made a difference. Thanks to him the world of today is a little smaller.

Geoff was the Organising Director for the First Inter-Island Games in July 1985, which was one of the many prestigious events of the Isle Of Man Year of Sport. Because of the success of these unique Games for small island communities it was agreed to set up the Island Games Association. Geoff was elected to the Executive Committee as both Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer and continued to serve in both offices for eight years (1984 - 1993).

During his term in office, membeship increased to 19 Islands and over 2,000 competitors and officials participated in the 1993 Games. At the General Meeting in the Isle of Wight 1993, he was unanimously elected an Honorary Life Member and given the honour of receiving the unique title of "Pater Ludorum" in recognition of his outstanding services to the IIGA.  Geoffrey was also the Editor and researcher of the publication the history of "The Island Games 1985 - 1995".

Geoffrey Corlett did not miss a single Games since their inception in 1985. He knew most of the team managers and many of the competitors from our different Member Islands. He came to the NatWest Island Games in the Isle of Wight last year and visited most of the sports during the week of competition. Geoff met with the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward during his visit to the Games.  He had friends from literally every corner of the world.

Geoff lived in the way he wanted others to live. When he turned 85 last year he participated in a triathlon in the Isle of Man and raised money for The Craig Heartstong Foundation by swimming 1000m (40 lengths of the NSC pool) followed by a 10 kilometre cycle and a 5 kilometre walk.

I many senses the success of the NatWest Island Games today is down to the work and inspiration shown by Geoff over the years. He loved competition, health and freindship - everything that defines the NatWest Island Games.

Geoffrey Corlett made a difference for islands and islanders. He showed them the beauty of international competition. He was a skilled teacher and swim coach, author of several books and he lived his life building a better future for those with disabilities. He never stopped raising funds and organising camps for the disabled. He did what many of us only talk about - he made a difference!

For many years Geoff was heavily involved in university sport, at national and international level and was a selector in Swimming and Water Polo for the World Student Games. He was Director of the Isle of Man University Student Festival of Sport since 1985 and during this period well over 40,000 students from England, Scotland and Wales participated in some 30 different indoor and outdoor sports. For this achievement Geoff was presented with the Isle of Man Government replica Manx Sword of State by the Department of Tourism and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Isle of Man Sports Council in 2006. The same year he was awarded an Hon. Fellowship of Gloucestershire University for outstanding services to physical education and sport and a BA Degree from Loughborough University in 2009.

Geoff attended St Paul's College, Cheltenham and qualified as a Secondary School Teacher before gaining an Honours Degree in Physical Education and Sport at Loughborough College and later studied at Birmingham University. His career for the 35 years prior to his return to his native island in 1983 to take up a Government apointment as Organiser for the 1985 Year of Sport, was in the U.K. and included senior teaching posts in secondary schools, a Senior Lecturer in Physical Education and Sport for 26 years at a Teach Training College and Physical Education Adviser.

Geoffrey Corlett will be deeply missed at the NatWest Island Games in Bermuda 2013. The first time the Games that Geoff created will cross the Atlantic Ocean. Geoff would have loved to be there. It is left to those of us who will be there to do our best in the competitions, to make new friends and more than anything else to go home again and make a difference.

The Chairman of the IIGA, Mr Jorgen Pettersson from Aland comments:
"The Member Islands have lost a friend, a mentor and a caring uncle. I have known Geoffrey since 1985. I was young and he was a little older but he treated me like everyone else, as an equal. I am sad to have lost a friend who I thought would stay around forever. But I am happy to have had the chance to meet a man who did change the world and the way we live."

Honorary Life Member the Ven. Brian Partington OBE, a former Chairman of the IIGA from the ISle of Man comments:
"Geoff made an indelible impression on the Isle of Man sporting community with his major contribution to the 1985 Year of Sport and organisation of the first "Inter-Island Games"; his passion and hard work for the International Island Games Association as General Secretary and later as Pater Ludorum; his commitment to Disabled Sport here and amongst the Island communities, as well as his organisation of the Universities Sports Festival. He will be much missed by his many friends worldwide and we are greatly in his debt."

Our beloved Pater Ludorum has passed away but his legacy will live forever.

Provisionally the funeral will take place on Thursday 30th August in Geoff's local church in Laxey and the International Island Games Association will be represented by Honorary Life Member the Ven. Brian Partington OBE.

Jorgen Pettersson
IIGA Chairman