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News > Deaths & Obituaries > BANTING, Mervyn Lancelot Hadfield

BANTING, Mervyn Lancelot Hadfield

You are warmly invited to leave a message below, share your memories, and celebrate the life of Mervyn Banting who we sadly lost in 2022.

The following Eulogy was written by John Cope.

Kenneth Mervyn Launcelot Hadfield Banting, eldest child of the Rev Canon Maurice and Mrs Phyllis Banting was born on 8th September 1937 – 9 days my junior - in a Birmingham hospital slightly premature as his mother had pre-eclampsia. In July of that year the family had moved to Studley in Warwickshire where Mervyn’s father had taken on the incumbency.  With so many names you might have thought Mervyn was royalty! Kenneth after his uncle, his mother’s brother, Mervyn I believe after Mervyn Haigh, the then bishop of Coventry (Studley was in that diocese), Launcelot after Launcelot Andrews, a prelate of Tudor and Stuart times, who was an undergraduate, fellow and eventually Master of Pembroke College Cambridge and later bishop in succession of Chichester, Ely and Winchester, much admired by Mervyn’s father who had spent time as chaplain of that same Cambridge College, and lastly Hadfield, his mother’s maiden name.

Brought up in a loving family with the usual good times, disagreements and quarrels that are the norm among siblings. One day armed with string and a couple of tins Mervyn and his sister, Ros, decided to play ‘telephones’. Ros was upstairs and Mervyn outside on the lawn.  Using a long-handled apple picker Mervyn passed up to his sister her makeshift telephone but instead of opening the tool’s jaws he did the opposite cutting Ros’s finger quite badly.  Lots of blood and a trip to hospital but all was well.  On another occasion there was a ring at the door, which Mervyn answered.  It turned out to be the bishop who enquired, “And who are you, young man?”  “Oh”, replied Mervyn, “I’m the Devil Incarnate!”   The Dean of Pembroke, Meredith Dewey, used to hold parties for young people in fancy dress.  At one of these Mervyn attended dressed as Robin Hood and sister Ros as a water lily!  There were some memorable holidays – Chipping Camden, Bucklers Hard, Blakeney and Italy/France.

Next a word about his education:- after nursery school at St Collets Mervyn attended King’s Choir School in Cambridge and then Tonbridge, perhaps recommended by a teacher there who had been a friend of his father from his Selwyn days. Mervyn distinguished himself academically gaining entry to Pembroke College Cambridge and making a start to his love of rowing.

But before Cambridge came National Service.  Mervyn joined the Navy as a Portsmouth rating on 2 September 1956 and it was on that same day that I first met him being introduced by a mutual friend,  After initial training in Plymouth on Britain’s last battleship HMS Vanguard, Mervyn and I parted company.  He went on to officer training eventually serving on a boom defence vessel that went out to the Med during the Suez crisis.  Strange to relate I spent time on HMS Bulwark and got to know the Captain, Phil Gick well before Mervyn ever met the man who was to become his Father-in-Law 

We met up again in Cambridge (I was at Peterhouse across the road from Pembroke). Fortuitously I was invited to Mervyn’s 21st where I first cast eyes on his beautiful sister. I didn’t find favour that day but bided my time!  A while later one evening when Ros and I were out punting, Mervyn and his rowing cronies observed us from a bridge where they were loitering armed with stale rolls from that evening’s Pembroke dinner.  Ros and I had to withstand the ensuing broadside!  Later at our marriage on 11 August 1962 Mervyn performed a most significant function.  Standing proxy for his father, who was marrying us, he gave me his sister!

Armed with a good degree in History Mervyn now got a job as an assistant master at Winchester College where he taught for 5 years before taking leave of absence to attend Cuddesdon Theological College to train for the ministry.  The then principal was one Robert Runcie later to have a marked influence on Mervyn’s future career.  He then returned to Winchester as a chaplain before joining a team of curates at Leigh Park, a large housing estate in Havant.

Mervyn and Linda married in 1970 thanks to Linda’s friend, Jane Mason, matchmaker extraordinaire. She and her husband Dick held a dinner party for 6 single persons 3 of each sex.  Result 3 marriages I’m told. Their marriage took place in this very church followed by a reception at Furzefield.  The wedding party travelled there by boat with bridesmaids perhaps uniquely wearing lifejackets.  I remember it well as after the service I had to roll up my morning trousers and wade out into the creek to retrieve my Landrover which, along with others, I had stupidly parked on the strand before the tide came in. The marriage was blessed as we all know with 4 gorgeous daughters and subsequently seven lovely grandchildren.

Mervyn had many hobbies and interests. He wasn’t a train nutter like many clergy but he was keen on clocks with quite a collection many of which he enjoyed restoring and/or repairing.; rowing, both taking part and coaching; reading (he had a large library); cycling trips; lover of cakes – never known to refuse an offer;  enjoyed his wine (loved watching Love Island with his grandchildren as long as his glass was freshly charged).  He and Linda were able to enjoy a decade or more of retirement in the idyllic surroundings of Furzend.  (There was a short interlude when he was persuaded back to Winchester as Acting Chaplain).  He gained mental stimulation through membership of a couple of intellectual groups, became the family cook and enjoyed the opportunity to travel widely.  Ros and I shared holidays with him and Linda in Italy, and with their good friends, David and Jilly Mckeen. They visited South Africa, Belize, Costa Rica and a number of trips to India where daughter Alice had settled with her husband Raj. At 70 he had a first go at skiing and at 80 white water rafting!  The family recall him delighting in saying hellos to those he met usually wearing his Panama hat, particularly if a pretty girl was involved!  Grandchildren recall his special hugs and do ask Joseph about the mismanagement of his false teeth.

What of his character and personality?  Merv the swerve – the with-it vicar – lively services,  though daughter Katharine mentions that when conducting her sister Helen’s christening she reportedly told him to stop talking and sit down as she thought he had said enough. As you would expect of a man of the cloth love for his fellow man, a sense of fairness, always a good listener, ready to give help and wise counsel to any who sought it leaving you to think and question. He was never pushy – you were left to make your own decision. “He was quick witted with a propensity for memorable one liners” one family member told me. 

You can’t think of Mervyn without Linda.  What of their legacy?  Love for all, especially the family. An open house policy. When studying in Bedford daughter Katharine and her friend Vanessa used to cycle over for Sunday lunch. She recalls bacon and potato hotpot followed by homemade ice cream with chocolate source. Live life to the full, give help wherever you can, take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.  They are both sorely missed.  May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

(HS 51-56)


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