R.I.P : Mike Rainford
Spirits of Ansett
Mike Rainford
26 Feb 1944 - 02 Nov 2002 
Rest in Peace
This is Maggie Rainford and the following is an account of my dear late husband's life, prior to joining Ansett (Adelaide) in 1982.

Mike Rainford was an only child, born 1944 near Preston, Lancashire. His parents moved to Bristol when his father became pay officer for BOAC. After joining his new school in Bristol, assimilation became a problem for Mike due mainly to his heavy Lancaster accent, which he quickly learned to drop! It was the same story again when moving to Stanwell, Middlesex; this time his rolling Bristol accent gave him grief amongst his peers. Maybe this is why Mike could always tackle accents with ease (including Russian) especially when telling a good joke. He was also a marvellous mimic.

He learned at an early age in school that English history was not always 'right' when after giving his interpretation of events covering the Mau Mau insurgence of the 1950's, his teacher ridiculed him in class. Mike believed (rightly) that the British were responsible for introducing money and taxation to a then simple country (Kenya) and for stealing much of their land. He always had a gift for seeing the 'big picture' from an early age. I think this is why Mike frequently went into battle for others if he believed an injustice had occurred, or at least he would seek to expose the wrongs.

Mike started with BOAC in the mailroom in 1959 and worked for a time in the admin office. He moved into the 'hub' at Heathrow in 1963, working on the baggage counter before transferring to Load Control, or Service Control at it was then known; this is where I met Mike in 1966. He worked part time at the Airport Garage Park where many sports cars were driven (all too briefly) and much lusted after. Mike acquired his white TR3 which he lovingly kept and 'restored' several times over - he always regretted not bringing it with him to Australia.

We began our relationship in 1969 – married in 1973 and bought a house in Maidenhead, UK during the housing boom when often the only house one could buy was from a basic floor plan (sight unseen). Mike exercised his DIY skills and quickly acquired others. We built an extension to our small house and I was allowed to knock the exterior wall down (the fun bit). Mike built formal brick wall planter boxes in the back garden and landscaped it with espalier fruit trees etc. Having finally finished, some eight years later, we emigrated! The other major event of course was the birth of our beautiful daughter Alison in 1981, coinciding with Mike's birthday on 26th February.

Meanwhile, Mike had risen to 'Red Cap' in Load Control and was seconded to Admin for some time to assist in the Load Control computerisation of BOADICEA (the then new BOAC computer system). When the transition period was over Mike felt he needed a change after returning to Load Control. He took up a British airways teaching post at Heston which he excelled in (according to feedback). He eventually wrote his own training program for BAHAMAS (the baggage tracing system that he was involved with from inception) and from memory he gave the programmers a hard time with his demands. At this stage he was a Senior Computer Project Officer at Heathrow and travelled to major international airlines training their staff, not to mention being a superb salesman in selling the system and bringing in millions of 'pounds' in revenue for BA. It was always a source of irritation to me that he was never shown any recognition for his work with BA. At the end of 1981 Mike became disillusioned with the direction of BA (always way ahead of anyone else's perception) as time would tell.

During that year Mike had trained Ansett Melbourne staff and was present during the hand-over on the start-up date. He approached Fred Niven in Melbourne and discussed our plans to move to Australia. With a little help from our friends we were able to settle in SA (although Melbourne management was keen to have Mike there). He began his career with Ansett in April 1982 in the baggage office (with real people, Mike would say) and bemused that he was happier away from the rat race of management and back doing the job he had held some 18 years previously.

As many Ansett friends would know it was not an easy ride for Mike when he first started at Adelaide Airport. Understandably there was friction from the many staff who believed a 'local' should have been given the position taken by Mike but once that had passed he was made to feel very welcome. Shortly after joining Ansett Mike became seriously ill with pleurisy and pneumonia and was hospitalised. We were due to move into our new house in July and were nearly reduced to tears when three colleagues arrived with offers of help and before departing handed over money they had collected (as Mike was not entitled to sick pay then). He felt humbled by this and never lost his love and appreciation for his Adelaide colleagues.

Mike would arrive home and tell me about his day at work, sharing some of the funny and sometimes sad moments. In later years he began to worry about the impending demise of Ansett and would get on his soapbox and warn people of his fears (about 2 years before the collapse). He was very concerned for his colleagues when he left Ansett at the end of 2000 and I am sure this weighed heavily on his mind, particularly the frustration that he could do nothing to help.

On a brighter note I am glad to have finally met the people Mike so often discussed and have drawn comfort from the expressions of sympathy, poems and the wonderful attendance at the funeral. Many people have told me how Mike had made a positive impact on their lives; well I can certainly say Amen to that!  
Mike will be remembered by all his workmates who worked with him at the airport.
A special bloke with infinite patience and a special kind of wisdom - sadly missed by all that knew him - Cheers Mike!!! (Watto)