The Chaplaincy to London Gatwick airport dates from early 1973, when Bishop Bowen of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton appointed Reverend Albert Hadshar as the first Catholic chaplain. “The concept of a Gatwick Chaplaincy had been in my mind for a long time” wrote Bishop Bowen, “but it was given impetus by representatives from Crawley Christian Council and my Diocesan Pastoral Council, who chanced to discuss the question at much the same time. From the very first, it was envisaged as an ecumenical venture and the Anglican Bishop of Horsham was also pursuing the possibility of appointing a Chaplain.”
The first Anglican Chaplain, Reverend Philip Bloy, was appointed shortly thereafter and the two jointly launched the Chaplaincy mission in October, 1973, from a small office.
By 1976 it was apparent that the rapid growth of the airport required a formal chapel as part of the terminal redevelopment, and the first inter-denominational chapel was dedicated on December 2nd, 1976 by Bishop Bowen, Bishop Eric Kemp (Anglican Bishop of Chichester), Rev. GAD Mann (General Secretary of the Free Church Federal Council) and other dignitaries.
The inter-faith purpose of the chapel was clear from the start, with symbols incorporating religious motifs for Christianity, Judaism and Islam later supplemented with symbols for Hinduism and the Sikh Khanda. On an ecumenical note, the first Free Church chaplain, Commissioner Denis Hunter, was appointed in 1987.
The construction of a second (“North”) terminal in 1988 heralded the arrival of a new North Terminal chapel in 1991. Here too multi-faith symbology was featured with wood carvings for each faith.
With continued airport growth and redevelopment the original South Terminal chapel was replaced in 2013 with a purpose-built facility dedicated to serving the needs of all faith communities.
VIPs attending this special occasion included the Anglican Bishop of Horsham, the Catholic Vicar General, Rev Mgr Canon John Hull, the Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army, the Mayor of Crawley, and leaders from the Muslim and Buddhist Faiths.
Dates of Clerical Appointments
|1972||First chaplains||Rev. Albert Hadshar (RC)
Rev. Philip Bloy (CofE)
|1987||First Free Church chaplain||Commissioner Denis Hunter (FC)
Fr DJD Lewis (RC)
|1988||Rev Stuart Wilson (CofE)|
|1994||Dom. Alexander da Costa Fernandes OSB(RC)
Fr Richard Wilson OSB (RC)
Canon Kevin McHugh (RC)
Comm. William Rivers (FC)
|1995||Rev Philip Hughes (CofE)|
|1997||Lt. Col. Steve Pallant (FC)|
|2002||Rev. Canon Jonathan Baldwin (CofE)|
|2006||Sr. Jo Threlfall (RC)|
|200x||Rev. Deacon Ian and Mrs. Wells (RC)|
|2011||First Buddhist chaplain||Richard P Heybroek (Buddhist)|
|2012||Col. Peter Hawkins (FC)|
|2014||First Muslim chaplain||Haafiz Muhammad Vhora (Muslim)
Grant Robbins (FC)
2015 – New Nativity Scenes for North and South Terminal chapels
After many years of service the chaplaincy’s original hand-painted creche scene, now over 15 years old, had to be replaced. The opportunity came in 2015 when we were able to source a remarkable new set of figurines thanks to Sister Jo’s efforts. The new Nativity Stables are courtesy of Simon Fox at Marco’s and they are populated with carved olive wood figurines hand-carried from Bethlehem.