Tribute: Joe Groat
Joseph Groat was born in Norwich on 12 February 1941 and was the second eldest of 4 boys. He grew up with his three brothers in a modest rented house in Sprowston on the outskirts of Norwich. His secondary education was at the city of Norwich school and then after A levels he went to Manchester University to study Physics. It was during his time there that he became a Christian. He followed that with a post graduate certificate of education at Kings College London and then taught in a few schools in the London area.
While in London he attended St. Michael and All Angels Church, Southfields, where he helped with the boys youth group and ran the football team alongside Charles Ward (later to become his father-in-law). He studied to become a Licensed Lay Minister and helped with services and ministry at the church.
Margaret and Charles Ward would often invite single people from the church to share Sunday lunch with their family and so it was that Joe and Di’s friendship developed. The age gap didn’t seem a problem in those days (8 years) with Di studying for A levels and Joe teaching (not in the same school!) Di went onto nurse training and during that time they became engaged. They married on 19 June 1971 and moved to Dunstable, where Joe had taken up the post of Head of Science.
Their first child, Gwen, was born in the summer of 1973 and then in January 1975 they embarked on an adventure to New Zealand where Joe’s eldest brother and family and his parents were living. Heather and Richard were born in New Zealand in 1975 and 1977. The family returned to England in 1978, Joe had a job as physics teacher at Dr Challoner’s School in Amersham and they bought their current house in Lionel Avenue.
While in Wendover the family attended church in Bedgrove and Joe took up the role of lay minister again. The children all attended the local schools and Joe took an active role on the PTAs, helped with the football teams and he also helped with Aylesbury and District Swimming Club.
When he retired from teaching, he took a Job delivering meals on wheels. He always volunteered to work Christmas day to allow those with young children to be at home.
For the last 15 years or so Joe and Di have worshipped at St Mary’s Church in Wendover where he again served as lay minister and often led the services at St. Michaels, Halton.
He was always very active. He ran several marathons including three in London, his best time being 3 hours 8 minutes. He cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats, London to Brighton, London to Paris and many other trips with Di. He also went skiing most years and led the school ski trips from Dr Challoner’s school.
His activity was restricted when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, sarcoma, in the autumn of 2014. He had major surgery in 2015 and then some more minor operations to try to control the spread. The treatment at the Oxford hospitals was amazing and although he was given a terminal diagnosis, with only a few months to live, he defied the odds, coped with the chemotherapy without complaint and was grateful for the extra time it was able to give him. He used the time to catch up with old friends, visit various places in England and although he could no longer run or cycle he would walk 2-3 miles most days to keep as fit as he could.
He was content that he had lived life to the full with no regrets and had followed the path that he felt Jesus had led him on.
He will be sorely missed, but we are sure he is now in Heaven and we will meet again one day.