Tributes paid to popular and ‘committed’ Hastings GP

A former Hastings GP, who worked at the Wellington Square Surgery for 24 years, has died.

Dr John Geater MBE
Dr John Geater MBE

Dr John Geater MBE died at home on Tuesday, September 3, following a period of illness, aged 74.

He had been a GP at Wellington Square Surgery from 1976 to 2000, when he retired due to his first cancer diagnosis.

He leaves behind his wife Jane; three children – Fiona, Sara and Jon – and his grandchildren as well as his sister Hilary who still lives in Birmingham.

Dr John Geater MBE

Born in Shrewsbury in October 1944, Dr Geater attended King Edwards School, in Birmingham, and later graduated as a doctor from Birmingham University, in 1967.

He and his wife Jane worked in Bhutan with the Leprosy Mission between 1970 and 1975, where he was the medical superintendent of Gida Kom Hospital, then hospital director at Mongar and head of the national leprosy control programme. They returned to the UK via New Zealand in 1976 with Dr Geater joining the Wellington Square Surgery as a GP.

His family said: “John was a committed GP who believed strongly in meeting patients at their point of need and focussing on the whole person not just a list of symptoms.

“He valued the relationships that he had with families in the town and was always pleased to bump in to past patients and to hear how their lives had unfolded.”

Dr Geater was a member of the Hastings Motor Boat and Yacht club for many years and was known for nipping out for a quick sail between morning and afternoon surgeries.

He was a co-founder of the Hastings charity LOAF in 1978 – which aimed to bring together churches across the town to support an annual project. LOAF has supported projects such as camel breeding in Kenya, planting 10,000 trees in Ethiopia, and building hostels, schools and medical facilities across Romania, Rwanda, India and South America.

In 2001 MP Michael Foster worked alongside Dr Geater and LOAF with a project to rebuild Hastings, Sierra Leone, which had been devastated by the civil war.

Dr Geater was awarded for his services to postgraduate medical education from the University of London in 1999. In 2005, he received the High Sheriff’s award for community service and was named Birmingham University’s Alumnus of the Year in 2006. Later that year, he was made an MBE when he was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

In retirement Dr Geater focussed his energy on international medical training and development. He co-founded the Doctor’s Dilemmas programme in 1995 and by 2001 this led to the establishment of PRIME (Partnerships in International Medical Education).