Geoffrey Murrell: Long-serving secretary and a president of Norfolk & Norwich Horticultural Society

OBIT Geoffrey Murrell

OBIT Geoffrey Murrell - Credit: Archant

A long-serving secretary and treasurer of one of the country's oldest horticultural societies, Geoffrey Murrell, has died in hospital aged 84.

After 22 years' service to the Norfolk and Norwich Horticultural Society, he was elected president.

At a packed general meeting at the Assembly House, Norwich, the retiring Mr Murrell was left speechless in March 1993 when a former chairman Richard Winch, presented him with an engraved claret jug and £1,000 in travel vouchers. He was praised for his efficiency and ability to keep calm, fellow gardening enthusiasts were told.

Mr Murrell's father was gardener and chauffeur to the vicar of Brooke. He went to the village school and then Bungay Grammar School before joining Norwich Union. He retired after 42 years as a head of department in the accounting division, partly to devote more time to his duties with the society.

He was a keen gardener, and spent years breeding and crossing one of his favourite flowers, the bearded iris, as well as growing vegetables. At one stage, he was growing 28 rows of potatoes – enough to feed his family for a year.

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During his tenure, which started in 1970, he planned the society's 150th anniversary shows in 1979. The autumn show attracted a record attendance of 650 exhibits at Sprowston Garden Centre. The late autumn show was also the 150th anniversary of staging the country's first chrysanthemum show, which had been at the Swan Inn, Norwich, in 1829.

The society, thought to be one of the oldest in the country, held its inaugural meeting at St Andrew's Hall on October 22 when 50 gentlemen attended.

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One of Mr Murrell's earlier challenges was finding a new location for the spring and autumn shows when St Andrew's Hall and Blackfriars Hall were closed for six months for repairs and building work in 1973.

During his presidential year, he and his wife, Jean welcomed more than 200 members of the society to his garden at Poringland. When he stood down, he posted his cheque to renew his annual subscription but it was returned. The society had voted to award him a life membership.

Married to Jean for more than 60 years, the couple celebrated their diamond jubilee this year. Mr Murrell leaves his widow, Jean, and three children, Glenn, John and Deb, four grandchildren, Ashley, Vicky, Laurence and Finlay and two great-grandchildren, Elodie and Poppy-Anne.

A funeral service will be held at St Faith's Crematorium on Wednesday, September 18 at 11am.

Michael Pollitt

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