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Obituary: Brother Michael Bartlett OGS

28 June 2024

The Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS writes:

BROTHER Michael Bartlett described himself as an “eccentric globetrotter”, and achieved notoriety among the aviation industry for his record-breaking flying entries in The Guinness Book of Records. He managed to charm and persuade most airlines to fly him free of charge, and so he achieved 21 world records, most notably flying around the world in 57 hours and 17 minutes. He had flown to 127 countries, and wrote of his passion and exploits in three books.

Michael was born in Manchester in 1940, was educated at Chetham’s School of Music, and was a chorister at Manchester Cathedral. Unlike his late brother, the Revd Dr John Bartlett — who was a Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, and Professor of the Church of Ireland Theological College — Michael was not destined for academic life or ordination. After school, he had various jobs, before spending four years as a Benedictine monk at Alton Abbey. He later worked as a volunteer at a mission hospital in Zululand, where he developed a love for Africa.

After study at Selly Oak Colleges, he returned to Zululand, sponsored by USPG, and was sent out to be the administrator of St Mary’s Hospital. Unfortunately, four years later, he suffered a serious motorcycle accident and had to return home; but he was able to return to Africa, this time to Lesotho, to work again in hospital administration.

On returning to the UK, Michael joined the Oratory of the Good Shepherd with its two-fold emphasis on prayer and pastoral care. Michael was professed in 1980 and worked as assistant warden of a student hostel and then in various Salvation Army hostels. He had an amazing ability to befriend and support people of all ages, nationalities, and backgrounds. He spent some time in South Africa, supporting the Southern African Province of the Oratory and assisting with the formation of some young Zulu brothers. In the European Province, he was elected Provincial, and was much appreciated for his pastoral care of the brethren and his able administration.

In retirement, Michael lived a life of contemplative prayer in Sandy, and continued to serve others as a town councillor. While he was happy to be in the air, Michael’s feet were always firmly on the ground, where he showed himself to be a true brother of the Good Shepherd.

Michael leaves behind his two sisters, Florence and Eleanor.

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