In the early hours of the 24th March our friend, and former Vice President and former Senior Chaplain at London Luton, the Rev Michael Banfield, passed away. Throughout his life Michael was a faithful servant of God and has now been called to Glory.
Michael was a member of the IACAC Board and Vice President from 2008 until 2013. He contributed much to the life of the Association and was instrumental in writing and setting up access to airport chaplaincy training and development materials online. He was passionate about airport chaplaincy and worked tirelessly to promote and encourage new chaplaincies. Wherever he went in the world he visited the airport either in support of the chaplain or to learn more about it as a prospective site for a new chaplaincy.
It would not be wrong to say that Michael was passionate about planes and would spend hours just watching them while observing the way an airport operated. Even his email address reflected his love of flying. Of course this love of flying was part of his passion for travel and he even ventured into the world of sea faring as a cruise ship chaplain and sailed to many ports around the world in that capacity.
The planned Thanksgiving service for Michael’s life has not been able to go ahead at present but will be held at a later date. It is hoped that any members of IACAC in the UK or Britain who are able to attend would be present. Once we have a date we will notify all members. Michael’s family have been very touched by the many messages they have received from members of the airport chaplain community.
His wife Linda wrote; Various members of IACAC have sent very kind and thoughtful emails and the most tremendous posts have been on Facebook from many airport colleagues. I am comforted by the thought of how so many people were helped by Michael through his lifetime. We had very good care from Hospice at Home, which enabled Michael to be at home until the end. The present world situation has of course complicated things. The committal at the Crematorium is on Wednesday 1st April at 16.15 but only 10 can go. This is actually ok because a Thanksgiving Service was also planned anyway. We shall now hopefully have this one Saturday afternoon in October open to all. We cannot have flowers on Wednesday so instead we shall have Michael’s black preaching scarf embroidered on each side at the bottom in gold with the IACAC symbol. Thank you again, Linda
Howie Adan, London Heathrow also wrote of Michael: I first met Michael and Linda in 2005 when he was the senior chaplain at London Luton Airport and the two of them came for a visit to the chaplaincy at Amsterdam Schiphol. He served for a long time as Vice-President of the International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains (IACAC) and over the years became a confidante and mentor to me in all things airport chaplaincy. To this day many of the training and ‘best practice’ documents found on the IACAC website are authored by Michael. In 2016 he was one of the referees for my application to Heathrow, he met me there on the day of the interview (I was late by two hours on account of jetlag!) and then for many months he served as my outside mentor as I came to terms with the job.
He was a gentle, patient man with a big heart and sharp intellect and the community of airport chaplains is poorer for his passing. In these photos, from October 2016, he took me around his project-in-retirement, Goodwood Aerodrome. On the day, he took his time to speak with everyone we met and, as always, showed himself to be a consummate chaplain. He will be sorely missed.