Galloping granny is no runaway bride

Their hands may tell the story of rich decades well lived but when Geoff Gearing (86) asked Jill du Toit (83) to marry him, their hearts fluttered like teenagers’.

Geoff popped the question on 5 September, in England, where they have been staying since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, preventing Jill from returning to her home at Rand Aid’s Thornhill Manor retirement village in Modderfontein, Johannesburg.

England is Geoff’s home but for the past six years, the pair have been switching between South Africa and England and enjoying many holidays at exciting destinations in between.

Jill has been a resident of Thornhill Manor since 2003 and quickly gained the nickname ‘Galloping Granny’ because she was always on the move, loved running and was quite the jetsetter.

Geoff is a triathlon champion and intends competing in the World Triathlon Championship event, age group 85+, next year. He was meant to compete this year but the coronavirus pandemic put paid to those plans.

Fellow Thornhill Manor residents Brian and Dawn Burls have been friends with Jill for the past 25 years and say Geoff is the ideal partner for her because he is able to match her abundant energy and active lifestyle.

“May they be blessed with joy, happiness and good health in their future life together,” say the Burls.

Jill had this to say on her upcoming nuptials: “Despite the rumours that are making the rounds, there is no truth in the story that I am getting married because I am pregnant.”

“She has assured us that having been with Geoff for six years, if it hasn’t happened by now, it will never happen but she offers hope to all the single ladies. If they wait long enough at Heathrow Airport, a suitable man will walk past, catch their eye and, as they say, the rest will be history,” says Thornhill Manor manager Esme Erasmus.

Thornhill Manor retirement village has two- and three-bedrooms units for sale on a life right basis. For further information, contact Jackie Scott or Esme Erasmus on 011 608 2480 or email

Geoff Gearing (86) and Jill du Toit (83) on the day of their engagement.

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