Michael Blakey, RIP

by Richard on November 30, 2006

Mike Blakey, a former contributor to this blog and one of the finest young men I have ever known, has been killed while working in Nothern India.

There are few details available but the Indian Police are treating his death as a murder. His body was found partially covered with stones in a gully near a church.

Mike was a man of tremendous gifts, funny and clever, compassionate and determined — he lived his life with courage and integrity. He wrestled with his faith — how many times did he tell us he wasn’t a Christian in his early days in Swansea? — and it became for him a source of strength and purpose. Mike dedicated himself to justice for the world’s poor and had a special zeal for the sufferings of people of Tibet. He was in Dharamsala working as a volunteer with children. He knew that he was in a hazardous place, but he went where his faith and principles drove him.

This news has been so devasting. I offer my condolences to the folk at Tong-Len, the charity of which he was a trustee, to all his other friends here in Swansea and further afield, and above all to his family. It was a privilege to have know him.

I’ll end with Mike’s own words

I hate goodbyes.

I think everyone does. It’s nice to think that at least you’ll always have the memories. But when you’ve missed out on the memories that you could have had, you can’t help but feel a little saddened.

To think what could have been is a dangerous thing; it helps no one. But how do you think otherwise when you have to forget the one person you’d like to stay? How do you feel when you’ve just said goodbye? How can you not think of what you’ll miss?

All these questions and I have no answers. I suppose that’s why I have all these questions. And what would I do with the answers? There’s another question.

Regardless, I hate goodbyes.

Especially this one.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Wood 11.30.06 at 10:56 am

That chokes me up.

Last night, my Bible study group convened at my house. The chap whose turn to lead it asked if, for the worship time, we had some suitable music. I found some.

Mike had given it to me.

I posted about Mike, too, once I was sure that the news had got around. But still, I can’t get my head around what happened.

He made the world better for so many people, with his humility, decency and relentless honesty, honesty that took him so far from home, all for the purpose of doing good.

RIP, Mike.

2

Kim 11.30.06 at 12:53 pm

“No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief.”

Gerrard Manley Hopkins

3

Pamela 11.30.06 at 3:05 pm

i have nothing to add, other than my agreement that Mike was truly one of the good people in the world, and that it will be, as George said on JHP, a darker place without him.

i hope he knew how loved he was, and that he is now safe and at peace.

4

Joel 11.30.06 at 3:34 pm

He left as a guest blogger shortly before I came on to guest. I remember thinking a few times, “what happened to Mike who used to post here?”

I’m very saddened, even as I really knew nothing of him except what he posted. If I remember right, he put up quite a few photos and had some great travel commentaries.

I either missed his goodby post or forgot about it. I just looked at it and have to say I don’t understand it, just as it is hard to comprehend fully the evil of murder even as I have grieved over the murder of a close friend.

5

Richard (the Third) 11.30.06 at 4:25 pm

I knew Mike in Swansea for a couple of years, and found him one of the most honest, generous and kind people I’ve ever known.
Rest in peace, Mike.

6

Cherry 11.30.06 at 6:49 pm

Mike stood as Godfather to our Grandson Benjamin. So, until he went back to India this summer, we saw him often and got to like him so much. We felt so glad that Benjamin would have him as a mentor; he was obviously a man of great faith and consistency. We liked his droll sense of humour. We have brilliant photos taken by him, and really happy memories. The sort of young man that gives us oldies great hope for the future. How senseless his death seems at this moment.

7

Blue Sock 12.01.06 at 2:01 am

I did not know Mike, as I was only briefly at Swansea, but I have heard wonderful things about him from my friends there. This is all too tragic, and I wish I had the right comforting words to say…. Perhaps we can only trust that some day, some way, God will use this to touch someone for Him… May Mike enjoy his eternal reward where there is no pain or sadness, and may we look forward to that day when we will see him again. My greatest condolences to you all.

8

mary & clive whitford 12.02.06 at 11:05 am

It is absolutely overwelming to find out how many peoples lives michael has touched and the love that he has generated throughout the world.
The words we have read since his death have been a tower of strength and are helping us to get through these difficult days. we thought we knew him well but are discovering hidden depths to his amazing qualities.
we will try to keep everyone informed of any arrangements as we confirm them.

Michael’s mum and stepdad. xxx

9

Kathy Banks 12.04.06 at 2:38 pm

I only knew Micheal briefly as I met him here in dharamsala, India only last July. He stuck me as a very thoughtful, honest, but very humourous man when I first met him. I didn’t know him so well but I have my memories and they will remain with me. He was doing some great work out here and has touched so many people’s lives. There is a community out here that is in shock and disbelief, just as I am. I have been very saddened by this and have not yet been able to make sense of it, although there is never sense to anything like this. He is in my prayers and will remain so forever. I hope his mind is at ease. My thoughts go especialy to his family. I am sorry for you all.

10

Naomi 12.05.06 at 11:58 am

I couldn’t think of the right words to write but perhaps that doesn’t matter.

Mike was a lovely guy and was always very kind to me. We worked together for 6 months at ORS in Swansea. Our desks were next to each other and we used to chat about all sorts of things - politics, religion, injustice, how to make the world a better place, his work with Tong-Len, and also lighter things like preparations for his brother’s wedding, his weekends in the park with Benjamin, his friends and whether tea was better black or with milk!

In the past few days I have been remembering our conversations, looking at old emails and wishing that I was able to look at our msn messenger conversations again. In one of his emails from India he told me about a ceremony in which he was wearing a turban, throwing purple powder around a room and becoming an uncle of someone who was ten years older than him. That is how I will remember Mike. Funny, clever, warm, thoughtful, and a truly genuine person.

My thoughts are with his family and close friends. I am so very sorry for your loss.

11

Nick Jones 12.06.06 at 2:28 am

I was deeply shocked and saddened to learn about Mike’s death. He was probably the first good friend I made at Swansea University. He was fun, open and at the same time knowledgable, serious and could talk about anything. What has to be said was that, in many ways, he was a living paradox. Let me explain. Although he was really attached to Britain, in particular his working-class Lancashire roots, he was in many respects very much a citizen of the world, as his charity work shows. Although he was a devout Christian, he was always willing to debate and question things, and wouldn’t accept everything handed to him. Although he did everything with great zeal and passion, nevertheless he mostly came across as being quite humble and modest (at least on the surface). Anyway, he was a wonderful person, and I’ll miss him dearly.

God bless you, Mike.

12

Clare Ashford 12.06.06 at 11:06 am

As a friend of Michaels from college and lancashire it is so nice to read of the many people who’s lives he touched throughout his life. He will be sorely missed.

13

Sophia Furber 12.07.06 at 10:09 am

I’d like to offer my deepest sympathy to Mike’s family and friends.

I met Mike in the summer of 2004 when we were volunteering with a charity for Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala. I remember being really impressed by his knowledge of the Tibetan crisis and of development issues in India, and by the tireless work that he put into helping vulnerable people in Dharamsala. A very genuine guy and a real inspiration. I’m sure the community in Dharamsala and McLeod will be devastated by this news.

Mike will be in my prayers

14

Ruth & Peter 12.07.06 at 11:12 pm

Michael and his family lived next door to us for years. We watched Michael grow from a quiet boy into a young man with passionate beliefs with the will and determination to go out and try to make a difference. An abiding memory of Michael will be when he and his brother Christopher, passed our window, taking their dogs for a walk; or would that be the other way around? Another is of Michael sat in his garden on a sunny evening, tucking into a BBQ. Then there is …….. these memories hurt at the moment but will, in time bring a smile to our faces. Michael you will be missed, but fondly remembered. Sleep peacefully. xx

15

Helen Fisher 12.08.06 at 2:06 pm

I would like to send my deepest condolences to Mikes Family and friends, I didnt know Mike very well, I met him only a handful of times at a Bible study group in Swansea, I found him to be a very knowledgable, passionate and honest human being. He always openly gave his opinions, and was not afraid to question. I wish that I could have got to know him better, but feel privilaged to have met such an amazing man.
My prayers are with Mike Family and friends.

16

Jeff & Jacquie Kitchen 12.08.06 at 7:20 pm

We only met Michael on one occasion, it was at the wedding of Rachel (my daughter) and Chris (Michael’s brother) earlier this year - even though it was the only time we met him he left an impression on us that day, with his warm smile and lovely sense of humour - we have often talked about the wedding day and it always ends up with us praising Michael for a wonderful speech he gave us all, as Chris’s best man.
Such a genuine happy young man - Our thoughts are with all of Michaels family

Jeff & Jacquie x x

17

Jeff & Jacquie Kitchen 12.08.06 at 8:03 pm

We only met Michael the one time and that was at the wedding of Rachel (my daughter) and Chris (Michael’s Brother), even though it was just the one time Michael made an impression on us that day with his lovely smile and sense of humour and such an easy person to chat with. We often talk about the wedding day and it always ends up with us praising Michael for the wonderful speech he gave us all, as Chris’s best man.
Such a warm, happy, genuine young man - our thoughts are with all his family

Jeff & Jacquie x x

18

Rajat Singh 12.11.06 at 10:05 am

I was a little surprised to read about the murder. But when I saw the location “Dharamshala” i was not surprised at all. That region (and North India in general) is very sensitive to Christian missionaries trying to convert people to Christianity.

It was sad, but foolhardy to venture in that area.

19

franbanks 12.11.06 at 12:55 pm

I met Michael about six times when I visited my daughter Kathy in India. I see him in Khana Nirvana, head bowed flicking through a book. I see his amazing resemblamce to one of my sons, Davy, that same amused smile playing his mouth, those keen kind eyes drinking in the conversation and, the laughter as we sat with Tenzin and Kathy, drinking lemon tea. Sweet natured boy out doing the best of work for his fellow man. Nothing cunning or coarse or sharp about him. Altho’ I knew him briefly, I felt I always knew him, and now I know that I wil never forget him, in my thoughts and prayers and in my family. Rest in Peace dear Michael. You were simply too good for this so cruel world. Fran

20

Amanda & Keith Lovejoy 12.11.06 at 1:19 pm

We only met Michael once, on Christmas Day last when he came to our home with his mother and stepfather, Mary and Clive. We had a lovely time chatting. Michael had a maturity and presence about him that makes his age, 23, difficult to believe. He was interesting, funny and kind.

The world has lost a very special young man whom we feel privileged to have met.

Our hearts go out to Mary, Clive and Christopher.

A & K X

21

blonde 12.11.06 at 3:35 pm

Rajat - Michael was not a missionary and the charity he worked with was not attempting to convert anyone to anything. It was an interfaith organisation of Hindu, Buddhist and Christians, but the work they were engaged in was not overtly religious.

22

Paul Brogan 12.11.06 at 4:11 pm

I was privileged enough to have known Michael several years ago, being that I am a friend of his older brother, Chris, and I have never met another person who I could say, hand on heart, never had a bad word to say about anybody, and the world is a much, much sadder place without Michael in it…

23

PAUL BLAKEY 12.19.06 at 2:52 pm

I am so very proud of the tremendous work and effort that Michael put in to his short life. I want to express my sincere thanks to all his many many friends and colleagues, who helped him make all this possible through their kind help and friendship. His life’s work and determined spirit will live on in all of us.
I wish to thank you all for your kind comforting cards, tributes & letters to our family & the much appreciated donations to Michael’s memorial fund -justgiving & also through Tong Len charity fund. (Donations which have been sent directly to me will be forwarded to the fund). This all helps immensely to keep Michael’s dreams alive
“A waste of a life but a life far from wasted”.
Love & thanks to all. God bless.
Paul Blakey.

24

M.J. 12.24.06 at 11:30 pm

I personally know Mike Blakey. He graduated from Swansea University in the summer of 2005. I graduated from the same uni a year after him in the summer of 2006. I usually meet him at the International Friendship House (a.k.a ‘Sign Post’) where we would play table tennis.

I’ve known him for more than a year and a half when he left for India in the middle of June 2006. The last time I met him at Sign Post was on 16 June 2006, Friday, and that was the last time I played table tennis with him. I’ve always known him as a really nice, unaggressive, kind and friendly guy.

I’ve heard him play the piano before, and I think he plays quite well.

As I had been living under the rock due to being too busy with my MSc course which started in October, I’ve only learned of Mike’s death on 23 Dec, which was yesterday, 1 month after his death, from a friend. Then back in my room, I did a Google search on the internet and found various news archives reporting his tragic death in India (That was how I discovered this site).

I was expecting to see him again later in December, but little did I expect I’ll never be able to see him again. The news of his murder in India really saddens me. It took quite a while for the reality to sink in. I will never again be able to see him at Sign Post and play table tennis with him. His absence is greatly missed.

My deepest condolence to Mike’s family and his parents. It’s all too heart wrenching for nice people like him to be unjustly killed. But God is just and will avenge the death His of anointed one.

MJ

25

Safwan 02.13.07 at 8:50 am

I have recently discovered the sad news of Michaels passing. As a college friend I remember he was always a wicked laugh and generally a great guy to get along with. I always look back at those maths lessons fondly. It does not surprise me to learn that he decided to make a difference to the world, it was obvious back then that he had a good heart. He will be sorely missed and my prayers are with him and his loved ones.

26

amanda 04.03.07 at 1:53 am

I am in the same position as Michael’s family. My brother was killed in India 2 weeks after Michael. The only help my family are getting is from our MP who has introduced us to the Deputy High Commisioner of India, the Indian police are useless and derogatory about my brother who they seem keen to malign. We know what happened , and they are not interested in the facts which he told us. India is a cruel and corrupt place. I hope that Michael’s Mum finds a way to secure some sort of justice for her son, who seemed only to care too much. Best of luck with the FCO , we have been very disappointed by thier ‘help’ so far.

27

Beverly Jones 07.27.10 at 3:34 pm

I had a Indian friend who was stoned to death in the same way in McLoed Ganj earlier in 2006, and the face was unrecognisable. It was never investigated and I have found very few places even mention it on the internet. He’s not even given a name where he is mentioned. His name was Raju Kumar. I wonder if these death’s are linked in any way, and the fact that the police didn’t bother investigating?

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