George James Garbett, usually known as "Jim", was born in the Black Country ( a fact that he prized) but was evacuated during the war to Blackpool where he attended Blackpool Grammar School. He did National Service in the Navy, trained as a mechanic, but never went to sea - except on a full rigged training ship! In later life his Naval training came in useful for his ingenious household d.i.y.projects.
He took up a place at St. John's College, Cambridge and gained a First Class Honours degree in English. He followed this with an Oxford PGCE and went to teach at Bolton School. In addition to his teaching he played a very large part in "out of school activities" such as play production, school camps and foreign visits. He gained a reputation as the person to sort out complex problems.
After nine years he took up a post to teach English at St. Martins. His organising ability was soon recognised. He was made tutor in charge of the new PGCE course when it was housed in offices on St. Leonard Gate and a room above Pye's Garage. When Bill Etherington retired he was made Head of the Education Department. He held together this very diverse department with his quizzical smile hiding a steely determination. He took part in other parts of the College life too. One year he accompanied the Geography Department on their Field Course in The Netherlands where he introduced them to features of Medieval Antwerp and Dutch Schools. As part of the College's Adult Education provision he led courses on Lake District authors in Countrywide Holiday Association hotels. He was fluent in several European languages and encouraged the work of the Institute of European Education based at the College. Following a College restructuring his post was renamed "Dean of Education"
He agreed to take up a newly created post of Assistant Principal and also to be a College Governor to represent St. Martins in the negotiations with the other institutions to form a new University of Cumbria.
St. Martins College as a body has much to thank Jim for, as do many students and staff who knew him as a teacher, tutor, colleague and friend.
After his retirement he was active in various bodies in Lancaster particularly those connected with Lancaster Priory where he was a qualified Lay Reader. Jim was also a regular donor to our Bright Futures Fund and he attended our large reunion in 2014 celebrating 50 years since St. Martin's College was established. His wife Sheila died in 1987. He is survived by his daughter Margaret, her husband Michael and their family who he greatly loved.
Jim can be seen on the right of the photograph above, along with David Aitken on the left and Frank Warren in the middle. All former members of staff from St. Martin's College, taken on campus in Lancaster in September 2014 at our St. Martin's 50th reunion event.