Michael Leach

Michael Leach – 1934 – 2018

Pontefract Probus regrets to announce the death in August 2018 of one of their most popular and respected members, Michael E Leach, 1934 – 2018.

Michael joined Probus in March 1992 and served as secretary 1997-8, president in 2000 and speaker finder 1999 to 2017.  This bare list, however, only skims Michael’s involvement with Probus, and indeed many other organisations in and around Pontefract.

An architect by profession, Michael had a wide interest in the heritage of the Pontefract district and was for many years Treasurer of the Pontefract Local History Society. A respected member of PontArc, the local archaeological society, he was actively involved as a pilot in aerial photography during the drought years of the 1970s. Indeed, with another current Probus member, he pioneered the use of 8443 Aerial Infrared Ektachrome for archaeological prospecting. So spectacular was their work that one of their images, suitably restored with modern software, was shortlisted in the Historic Photographer of the Year in 2017, in competition with thousands of pictures shot on the latest digital instruments.

As the almost permanent speaker finder, a post which he relinquished shortly before his illness, he was instrumental in bringing many fascinating people to Probus. Indeed, the writer’s first contact with our club was as a visiting speaker brought in by Michael. Others followed the same path. His lifelong interest in flying continued long after he gave up his private pilot’s licence and if a speaker cancelled at short notice, Michael was ever ready to fill in with an illustrated talk on some aspect of aviation.

A packed church with friends standing in the aisles and even in the porch demonstrated just how widely Michael was respected and missed.

Eric Houlder