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Obituary: THE RT REVD MICHAEL HARRY GEORGE HENLEY

by
17 April 2014

Naval man: Bishop Henley in 1989

Naval man: Bishop Henley in 1989

The Rt Revd Edward Luscombe writes:
THE Rt Revd Michael Harry George Henley, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane from 1995 to 2004, died on 21 March, aged 76.

Michael Henley was educated at St Marylebone Grammar School, and at the London College of Divinity. He was ordained in 1962, to a title at St Marylebone Parish Church, where he met his future wife, Rachel, then a senior staff nurse in the accident and emergency department of University College Hospital.

In 1964, Michael joined the Royal Navy as a chaplain, on a short-service commission. The next year, he and Rachel were married in St Marylebone Parish Church. She followed her husband to Singapore, on what was officially meant to be an unaccompanied posting, and, in consequence, the pair became known as "the chaplain and his illegal wife".

After four years' service, they returned to Britain, on Michael's appointment as chaplain to Anglican students in the University of St Andrews. In 1972, he moved to a chaplaincy at the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook.

The call of the sea proved irresistible. In 1974, he rejoined the Royal Navy on a permanent commission; and the Navy was to behis milieu for the next 17 years.His service culminated in his ap-pointment, in 1989, as Chaplainof the Fleet and Archdeacon forthe Royal Navy. He became anHon. Chaplain to the Queen, and an Hon. Canon of Gibraltar Cathedral.

In 1991, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath, and the following year became the first Director General of the Naval Chaplaincy Services. He retired from the Navy in 1993, having served in stations as diverse as Sydney, and San Diego, in California. He and Rachel returned to St Andrews, which was their home port for more than 30 years.

Soon after his retirement, he undertook duty as Locum Priest-in-Charge of Holy Trinity, Pitlochry, and St Adamnan's, Kilmaveonaig, two rural congregations in the diocese of St Andrews. It was from there that he was elected as Bishop of the diocese at the end of 1994.

It was not an easy succession. He followed the Rt Revd Michael Hare Duke, who had held office for a quarter of a century. Henley brought very different and distinctive gifts to the episcopal office. He was a good listener, and, perhaps because of his naval experience, was content to delegate responsibility as long as he saw it properly exercised. Not surprisingly, he was a stickler for punctuality. Inevitably, there were initially some people who did not appreciate the new approach.

He retired for the second time in 2004, and remained in St Andrews, although he and Rachel moved toa smaller and more manageable house, where Rachel delighted in the productive garden. It was an ideal place for an enthusiastic golfer, as Michael was. He was a member of the Royal and Ancient in St Andrews, and of the Royal Perth Golf Club. Until his health compelled him to retire in 2013, he was Hon. Chaplain to the R and A.

He and Rachel shared a love of fishing, and together they spent many happy days on the River Dee, even though he never quite managed to reach her level of skill. Another passionate interest was rugby Michael had officiated as a referee during his time at the University of St Andrews, and again at Holbrook. He played for the Royal Navy, Far East Fleet.

Rachel died in 2013. Although he had not been well for some time, Michael's death came as something of a shock. He is survived by two daughters and five grandchildren.

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