A large group which included, among others, London Luton Airport staff, chaplains and members of several faith groups, including local clergy, met in the Silver Lounge at London Luton Airport on Friday 18th October to bid an official ‘farewell’ to the airport’s senior chaplain for the last 18 years, the Rev Michael Banfield.
Glyn Jones, Managing Director of London Luton Airport, led the tributes to Michael – praising his dedication and commitment to the chaplaincy at the airport and devoting a great deal of time and effort to building up the airport’s chaplaincy team. Alan Harpham, the chairman of Workplace Matters (WM) – an ecumenical charity which takes Christian values into the workplace, including London Luton Airport – praised Michael’s faithfulness; while Charlotte Osborn of Newcastle Airport Chaplaincy and Network Co-ordinator for The International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains (AICAC), praised Michael’s tireless enthusiasm for the work of that Association.
Michael, who signed off from his post at the airport with a flight in a Tiger Moth as well as a ride in the cockpit on a scheduled flight to and from Inverness, said that it had been a privilege to be a part of the airport’s life for so many years. In looking forward to a bright future for the chaplaincy, Michael also paid tribute to his successor, the Rev Canon Liz Hughes, who is heading up a growing team of chaplains who meet the pastoral needs of both staff and passengers at the airport.
Employing over 500 people directly and some 8,000 people indirectly, London Luton Airport is the UK’s fifth largest passenger airport, dealing with 9.6m passengers in 2012. Some 96% of its passengers fly on scheduled – rather than charter – services and 89% of its passengers fly on international flights, leaving 11% of passengers to fly on domestic flights.
London Luton Airport is just one of the many workplaces to which WM provides chaplaincy services. Its chaplains operate within the emergency services – in police stations, among fire and ambulance teams and so on – in manufacturing industry; especially at Vauxhall Motors in Luton; in the ‘town centre retail’ environment, and with those living and working along the Grand Union Canal.