In Memoriam – Mike Turner



Mike Turner, FACI 1937-2012

Mike Turner, FACI who died on 24th Sept. after a short illness, joined Orpington Video and Film Makers (OVFM) in 1992, becoming Chairman in 1997, a seat he held for the next 13 years. He was currently Vice Chairman.

Surrey born, Mike was evacuated to Wales in WWII. After National Service in the RAF he became an underwriter with Commercial Union. Once retired, he ran the shop at a local golf course. Always a keen footballer, cricketer, and a film fan. Mike loved Chelsea, Surrey and Doris Day.

In 1980 he was a founder member of the Orpington and Chislehurst Centre of the National Trust, filling various roles and was currently Vice President. His wife Sue is their Archivist. As leader of their fund-raising team, an early project involved Ightam Mote, the medieval moated manor house.

At OVFM, Mike’s first filming success was Charles Henry Robinson about the American who came across Ightam when cycling around Kent in the 30’s. He so loved the house, that he bought it in 1953 and donated it to the Nation in 1985.

Mike was a crucial factor in OVFM’s recent development. Though most hobby organisations are struggling to halt falling numbers, the club’s membership has almost doubled in the last decade, thanks partly to the Turner effect.

He loved people, never forgot a name, one of those rare individuals who brightens a room as they step through the door. His warmth, sense of fun and enthusiasm made everyone feel better when he was around. Visitors often remarked on the friendly atmosphere in our club-room. He was a popular MC, always well prepared, keeping an audience in a good mood.

He was always busy yet, when he undertook a new project, he could summon extra energy to make positive things happen. In 2008 he felt our Golden Jubilee should be celebrated in style, and set about organising for 35 members to fly over to attend the Guernsey Lily Festival, to visit the Odeon Leicester Sq., planning two Film Shows that raised £2,100 for local charities, and even unearthed our Founder in Spain to attend the Jubilee Dinner.

When the Kent Festival was in danger of failing, it was typical for Mike to chair the rescue group who saved it and was always 100% involved in its renewed success.

100%, that was the Mike Turner way. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts go out to Sue in her loss.

Reg Lancaster,



26 Replies to “In Memoriam – Mike Turner”

  1. I always regarded Mike as the most skilled diplomat I’ve ever experienced in my life. It wasn’t that he kept the peace by being weak and always saying yes, but he had a way of calmly explaining his position with such dignity, that even if you disagreed, you felt happy to go along with his way. Because it was probably better and more considered anyway.
    I don’t think I have EVER seen him with anything but a warm smile on his face, and people always liked to be around him, as he was genuinely interested in YOU, and made you feel good about yourself.

    He will be tremendously missed.

  2. A true gentleman who will be very much missed. I have happy memories of the trips he arranged to Guernsey and the Leicester Square Odeon. He lit up the OVFM club room with his big smile and wonderful sense of humour.

  3. Despite being a member of OVFM for just over two years now, I never really got to know Mike Turner that well – but his warmth, cheery disposition and amiable personality made him feel like an old friend to me.

    I don’t recall ever seeing Mike without a smile on his face nor was he ever less than welcoming or polite towards anybody, an admirable personal trait and a positive boon for a social club such as OVFM.

    I always enjoyed his “old school” way of running the meetings in Chris’s absence (sorry Chris), and the gentlemanly manner he exuded commanded the attention of the audience at the annual OVFM film shows.

    Ever a team player, I noticed Mike was always a keen volunteer and was the one person you could rely upon to get into the spirit of things – especially if it required dressing up! To that end, for some of us, the last abiding memory we shall have of Mike is of him dressed as a banana at the last Oscars night to help promote Anna Littler’s film!! A classic moment in recent OVFM history that even made the local press!!

    While I regret not getting to know Mike better, I do feel honoured to have known him on the level that I did and I shall miss his ebullient and charming presence as I’m sure everyone at OVFM and those who knew him will too.

    My deepest condolences to his wife and family.

    Rest In Peace Mike.

  4. If it wasn’t for Mike & Tom Fagg I probably wouldn’t have become a member of the OVFM. I met them both when they were giving a film show about the Evacuees to Evacuee Association. Being a keen video photographer I had approached Mike and asked him about the OVFM. Mike said “Come along to our club meeting next Tuesday evening”. That was about 12 years ago. Sitting up the front was Mike’s idea and I’ve sat there ever since with my long standing mate Len, now retired from the OVFM because at the age of 90 doesn’t feel like turning out on cold winter nights anymore. However John another member I introduced does and once again Mike made him very welcome as he did all new members.
    His cheery voice and banter with Reg will be sadly missed.

    R.I.P MIKE

  5. Reg’s comment that ‘100% was the Mike Turner way’ rings very true with me as well.

    Prior to every North v South Heat and Final, we would meet up to discuss the entries and entrants so that he was fully clued up and he would write down his own little anecdotes which he would use in his role as MC.

    When I moved down to Bexhill and took over as Competitions Officer for the Sussex Film Festival, I could think of no-one better to take on the role of MC for that Festival, too. Mike did not hesitate to say ‘Yes’ and each year would come down to Bexhill to sit through all of the films prior to the Festival day itself to familiarise himself with what would be shown. It was because of his sense of duty to pre-empt any problems that might occur that things ran like clockwork on the day of the Festival itself.

    A couple of years ago, all 3 judges failed to show up for the Sussex Film Festival judging for various reasons. There was no time left to arrange another session so, together with a neighbour who was an ex BBC man, Mike immediately volunteered to take on the role of judge. He spent countless hours not only watching all of the films but writing up all of the comments as well including his usual anecdotes that he was going to use on the day. Between them, they really saved the Festival that year. He had already agreed to act as MC for this years event as well before he was taken ill.

    We will always remember that the last meeting he attended was the one Jo and I gave about our travels around Asia despite the fact that he was not at all well at the time, although he would never show that he was suffering. He was gracious enough to tell us at the end of the evening that he wouldn’t have missed it for anything yet it is us who owes him a great debt for being such a loyal friend.

    Mike, OVFM will not be the same without you. May you rest in peace.

  6. I have known Mike for a long time mainly through the Kent Film Festival. He really did bring the festival back to life after the break up of the old committee and people who enter the festival now do owe him a debt of gratitude that there is a place for them to show their films to a wider audience. Perhaps more than anything it was his sense of fun especially when things went wrong at Canterbury, which happened from time to time, he would have joke to get us out of trouble. If anybody deserved a IAC fellowship it was Mike Turner FIAC.

  7. Mike and I were close friends for nearly 30 years, serving on the committees of the local National Trust, O.V.F.M. and the Kent Film Festival. We made more than 100 films together and will always remember him for his enthusiasm, personality and willing to help anyone who needed help or advice.
    Like many, many others I will never forget him.

  8. I loved the old fashioned but gentle way Mike had. Although not able to come very often, Mike ALWAYS made me feel very welcome. He is a real loss for us all. My condolences to his family who will surely miss him greatly.

  9. It is very difficult to get to grips with the fact that Mike won’t be coming through the door again. His smile, his cheery, friendly demeanour, his total dedication to everything he did, all will be missed. I never saw him angry, never saw him phased when things went wrong. I recall one occasion at the Kent Film Festival, the projector failed ten minutes before the doors opened. Mike calmly made a few phone calls and within minutes, a new room with a projector (found from heaven knows where) had been organised for the first viewing session. By the start of the second session, another projector had been set up in the main theatre, and the show was ‘back to normal’. And meantime, Mike found time to tell jokes from his famous repertoire to keep the audience happy in spite of the inconveniences. I have many many very happy and fond memories of Mike … his total willingness to help whatever was asked of him … his insistence on ‘just five grains of sugar’ in his tea … his calm, soothing approach … his effervescent smile. It is very difficult to come to grips with the fact that all this is now, sadly, just a happy memory of a true gentleman. My thoughts and condolences go to his beloved wife Sue and his family.

  10. Everyone has already aptly put into words what we all feel. I have known Mike personally for quite a while as we lived in close proximity. Whenever I visited him, he always gave the warmest welcome. We worked together for the Dresden and Poland trip for the National Trust and it was a real pleasure to see him put it all together so perfectly.
    He will forever be in our hearts.

  11. I was shocked and saddened at the news. As a newcomer to the club I never knew Mike other than seeing him at club meetings and enjoying his delightful intros at various events. No longer will he be bringing a smile to our faces from his cache of corny jokes when filling in time for some delay.
    His friendly and smiling presence will be deeply missed by everyone.

  12. Mike Turner remembered
    Mike first came to my attention when he showed a film of the Krimml Falls with an almost inaudible commentary. The result was that he came to me to use my facilities to correct it and again later when he wanted to edit Charles Henry Robinson. That is when I really got to know this very kind and unassuming man.
    This film was typical for Mike. He broke all the conventions by appearing both as C.H.R and also as commentator, but the great thing for him was that a film should tell a story.
    Mike was not technically gifted and frequently made jokes about it himself, but he was a great showman always thinking big. So for example when I asked that the annual prize-giving should be removed from the Spring Public Show and get it over quickly on a normal club evening he expanded the idea into the Oscar Night which has been a great success.
    For his and Sue’s Ruby wedding Mike booked the Odeon cinema in Bromley and filled it with his friends and like so many others I will also remember the great success of the club weekend at Guernsey.
    Curiously, although Mike was a great showman, as a person he was quiet and inconspicuous. But he was unfailingly helpful and kind and was a main factor in making our club so successful while other clubs were failing.
    Indeed Mike was one of the nicest men I have met!
    We shall all miss him greatly and our kind thoughts go out to Sue on her great loss.

    Colin Jones.

  13. To have known Mike was a privilege. To be in his company was a real pleasure and his attention to detail was impressive.
    He enriched our lives and will be sorely missed.

    Richard & Jess Pugh

  14. Having only just heard of the sad death of Mike Turner may I pass on our condolences as well as those of Chichester Film & Video members. Although not known personally by most of our members it was always apparent that he was an ‘up front’ man, M.C at many Festivals, he propelled things along with his enthusiasm. Recently we discovered what it is like to lose such a character. Sadly, another empty chair.
    Keith & Pam Baker

    1. It’s hard to imagine OVFM meetings without Mike’s cheerful presence. He was very welcoming when I first joined and I really got to know him when he asked me to be part of the team planning our Golden Jubilee celebrations. When I became Treasurer it also became clear to me how much income he generated for the club without any fuss through the films shows he gave to outside groups and the number of people he encouraged to come to club shows from his wide range of contacts. I’m afraid I’ll be away for his funeral but I will be thinking of him and of Sue.

  15. Mike was a ‘gentle man’, quiet, unassuming and diplomatic. It was so nice to hear him encouraging film makers no matter whether it was their first film or one of many, and he endorsed his encouragement through the viewfinder.

    We are so fortunate that he starred in many short films. His humour and personality will live on in our memories. Porrige, prunes and bananas, amongst other things, will always remind me of a very special and gracious man.

    My heart goes out to Sue at this very sad time. Mike will be missed so much.

  16. Mike Turner’s Legacy.

    Mike Turner was a man with drive,
    Not a man prepared to hide.
    He has done so many things,
    Not sailed a boat, but flown with wings.

    In his youth he was a Surrey man,
    Helping out where ever he can.
    An underwriter he grew to be,
    Making life secure for him and me.

    He would take on most any thing,
    Especially golf, with a deadly swing.
    At Orpington video & film makers he took the chair,
    Making a big impression to all who attended there.

    His life was full with the National Trust.
    To make it available to all was a must.
    He would raise money as he thought he should
    To make sure the old buildings still firmly stood.

    All his work, what ever it may be
    Will leave a lasting legacy,
    For youth to come to just sit and stare,
    At all the wonders preserved right there.

    Thank you Mike for all you have done,
    By encouraging others to have some fun.
    Keeping your friendships going strong
    By create some life long bonds.

    Rest in peace is all we ask
    Now you have fulfilled your life long task.
    Visit the past residence of whom you spoke
    That once lived at Ightham Mote.

    Malcolm B. Goodwin

  17. I can’t put into words how much I will miss Mike. We used to go to each other’s houses to watch French films which he particularly enjoyed. We played golf together and were due another match this summer. His infectious laugh and self deprecating humour will remain with me always. I loved his films and the way he copied them all onto one VHS tape. He pretended to be a duffer when it came to using his Casablanca but it always danced to his tune. Every Christmas he helped entertain club members with his thespian efforts, usually in drag. Life is not going to be the same without Mike.

    Hugh Darrington

  18. As relatively new members we had such a short time to know him, but will have long time memories of his friendliness, good humour and calm approach. A lovely man who will be greatly missed.

    Andy & Marian

  19. To me, Mike has always been Mr OVFM. When I started coming to the Club evenings his enthusiasm and light hearted approach to everything was very appealing. And when I had something of a dilemma about continuing with my Membership, Mike was the one I turned to for a quiet chat. Bearing in mind his many other interests and responsibilities I feel we as a Club were so very lucky to have someone of his calibre as a Member and Chairman for so long. He will be hard, or perhaps even impossible, to replace.

    Brian Pfeiffer

  20. Everyone has taken the words out of my mouth,such a lovely man.Gordon and Mike have spent many hours admiring each others stamp collections while Sue and I chatted in the lounge.We will miss him so much, my love goes out to Sue.

    Barbara and Gordon Darby

  21. Throughout my 20 years in OVFM Mike has epitomised the warmth, humour and spirit that has enabled the Club to grow in stature and membership. There was always a friendly greeting for old and new members regardless of their technical ability and his deft handling of audiences as Chairman, MC or cabaret organiser was admired and enjoyed by all. Mike will be greatly missed and our love and condolences go to Sue.

  22. I’m Mike’s cousin in Australia. I was terribly saddened by the news of Mike’s death. He was an important part of my life, despite the distance of thousands of miles between us. He was such a generous and kind-hearted man. My mother, his aunty Olive, always regarded him as her favourite among the many nephews and nieces on both sides of the family. Mum and I visited England together in 1985 and Mike and Sue were incredibly kind to us, showing us several historic sites. We didn’t meet again, unfortunately, but Mike and I became pen-pals (or email pals) following my mother’s death in 2003. He was a reliable and excellent correspondent. I mentioned in passing in an email that my daughter, Hannah collected stamps and from then on, Mike would send regular lots of stamps by ordinary mail. He also kept me up to date with his various trips and sent DVDs based on them. I really treasure these DVDs more than ever now. My heart sunk on hearing the news, from Sue, yesterday and I feel that there is now a big gap in my life, especially when it comes to the Turner family and my connbection to my homeland, England. Mike will live on in my heart and memories, and through our years of correspondence, which I have kept. Barry York, Canberra, Australia

    One aspect of Mike that some people might not know was his effect on anything electrical or electronic!
    I was once on one of the National Trust holidays that he led when we set off for France by Eurostar. There we were, all 40 of us, happily through the barrier with our electronic tickets when we realised that Mike wasn’t with us! He was stuck on the other side because his ticket wouldn’t work. It took quite a few minutes for the rail man to solve the problem.
    Check out tills and library computers have crashed when Mike approached; in fact, things went wrong so often that he was even barred from entering the local computer shop!
    We remember one Christmas when as soon as Mike set foot in our house all our fairy lights went out.
    Mike himself was one big shining light in our lives and, whereas all the other problems were eventually solved, very sadly his own light has gone out forever.

  24. What a wunderful time we have had…
    There really isn’t anything more to say, that hasn’t been already said. I got the sad news from Barbara last week. I was really shocked and very sad to hear that Mike is gone before us, but not from us. We had very happy days during our journeys to Dresden and Poland last year. I still remember the film making of the “True escape from Colditz” and all the other takes he made in this time especially about his favorit Augustus the Stronge. I’ve never met people, who were so friendly and light hearted as Mike. Always looking forward and seeing the good site in everything. As long these memories remain in our heart, he will always be with us. Thanks to Mike and all the friends of the Orpington Film Makers and the NT for having so many wunderful days together. All the best wishes to everyone, who knows me and Torsten the busdriver for the National Trust Journey Dresden/ Poland.
    I still hope, that we will meet again in the future.
    Alexander K.Heinz
    G.Anger GmbH & Co.KG
    Am Friedrichspark 11
    14476 Potsdam / Germany

  25. Somewhat belatedly I want to add my tribute to the many others above, but much of what I would like to say has already been said. I did not know Mike terribly well but he made you feel that you were one of his best friends. Peter and I joined the club celebration day in London at IMAX and MOMI and he made us both feel so welcome, and although he had plenty to do he spent some time chatting to Peter. I gather they chatted cricket, and from that Christmas on Mike always put a cricket comment in his Christmas card. He was a lovely man and will be sorely missed by all whose lives he touched. My thoughts are with Sue at her loss.

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