New Chaplain for Leeds/Bradford airportChaplain Leeds Airport

The Revd Andrew Atkins is the newly appointed (and first stipendiary) Coordinating Chaplain for Leeds Bradford Airport, and he was welcomed to his role this week by a group of senior Church leaders during a visit to the airport.Andrew Atkins is a Methodist minister in the Aireborough and Wharfedale Methodist circuit and he shares airport ministry with two volunteer chaplains: the Revd Richard Dimery, Vicar of Woodside, Horsforth, and David Arblaster, a Catholic deacon.

The post has been created with financial support from the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales and the Leeds and West Yorkshire Methodist Districts.

The Church leaders – which included Bishop Paul Slater and Archdeacon Paul Hooper - visited the control tower, the fire station and the space beside the departure lounge which is set aside for quiet and prayer.

Andrew Atkins says, “Chaplaincy ministry enables a visible Christian pastoral ministry to staff and passengers alike. I’m round and about in the airport with my hi-vis vest that says Chaplain on it, and that can lead to all sorts of conversations. For example, I recently helped a couple find a taxi and in the process they told me that their son died two years ago and it was the first time they’d been away since. Airports are often fast-moving, anonymous places and they were evidently feeling vulnerable and were glad to chat to someone.”

Carol Burrows, Head of HR at the airport, says, “Millions of passengers pass through the airport every year and the people element here is so dynamic; you get glimpses into peoples’ lives that you don’t get in any other job. It  can be hilarious one moment and then very distressing the next and so the chaplains’ work is invaluable and a great support to us.”

The chaplains are also part of Disasters and Emergency Planning – which means they’re always on call to in case of an emergency.

Also present at the visit were the Revd Dr Liz Smith, Chair of Leeds Methodist District; the Revd Dr Roger Walton, Chair of West Yorkshire Methodist District; the Revd Kevin Watson, Chair of West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council; and the Revd Mgr Paul Fisher, Episcopal Vicar in the Catholic Diocese of Leeds.

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer chaplain or part of the Emergency and Disaster Pastoral Support Group (both of which involve an interview), please contact the Revd Richard Dimery.

An initiative coordinated by West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council

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