OBITUARY

Mr Michael D. Flynn M.V.O.

30/12/1937 ? 02/01/2011

The Duke of Edinburgh?s Coachman

Micky was born in Islington, North London in 1937 and was the youngest of a family of 11 brothers & sisters. From an early age he worked for his father, who was a Carman Contractor, with horses based near Kings Cross during the war years. At the age of 16 he went on to serve his apprenticeship as a slaughterman.

In March 1961 Micky married Marina who has been constantly by his side throughout his career. Also in the sixties, Micky went to work with his late older brother Frank Flynn, for Rothmans of Pall Mall, driving their pair of Grey Horses to a Commercial Brougham delivering cigarettes to the Embassy?s in and around London, and competing in the light trade classes at all the major shows around the country.

In the early seventies he moved onto work with the Heavies, and joined the Young?s Brewery Famous Black Shire Horse Team in Wandsworth, South London, and after a few years he took over as the show team?s Coachman, driving their 4-in-hand team at the county shows as well as pub openings and parades. Micky?s ambition was to one day drive the eight horse team which had only been driven a few times before he joined Young?s. Then in 1977 the opportunity arrived to drive the 8-in-hand to celebrate the Queens Silver Jubilee at Smiths Lawn, Windsor. Later on in the seventies he moved on to the recently opened Courage Shire Horse Centre near Maidenhead, Berkshire, where he would give the visitors demonstrations on plating and harnessing up horses.

In the early eighties, Micky moved back to light horses and went to work for Alan Bristow near Cranleigh, Surrey, initially to produce and train Alan Bristow?s team for Horse Driving Trails Events, but eventually taking over competing the team of Grey Lipizzaners, and was asked to represent Great Britain at the 1984 World 4-in-hand Driving Championships in Szilvasvarad, Hungary. Also in the GB team was Prince Phillip and George Bowman. Micky had a brilliant championship by coming third in the marathon and he was christened by the Hungarians as the ?Flying Flynn?. He finished sixth overall, the highest placed non Hungarian competitor, to help secure the Bronze medal for team GB.


Micky exercising the Duke of Edinburgh's team of ponies.

By the end of the eighties, Micky and Marina went ?State Side? as he was asked to run, for a few weeks, the private collection of carriages and horses belonging to James Coson at Beechdale Farms, Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, this was initially while they interviewed for a prospective Head Coachman., However, after a while the late Mr Coson asked Micky and Marina if they would stay and take the position. Micky always remarked that the first thing to greet you in the vast coach house was the eleven authentic Park Drag?s & Roadcoach?s complete with matching harness. Micky then worked on putting together a new team of horses, and then started competing at most of the coaching events in the North Eastern States of America. Whilst working at Beechdale Farm Micky and Marina become befriended by the local Amish community, who would regularly call in and ask for his advice on driving horses, and he once put together four of their Saddle Bred horses as a team. The Amish often repaid them by inviting them to a banquet or barn-raising. The Amish people have remained good friends to this day.

With Mr Coson?s decision to sell Beechdale Farm, Micky and Marina returned to England in late 1993, and it wasn?t long after returning from America that Micky was contacted by His Royal Highness Prince Phillip, as he had heard that he was back in the UK, and wondered if Micky would be interested in producing and driving his Fell Pony Team, this was initially just for one season. That was almost eighteen years ago now! During that time Micky has trained and driven countless number of Fell ponies for His Royal Highness to compete with at events, and drive around the Royal estates at Windsor, Sandringham, and Balmoral. He has taught to drive many friends and guests of the Royal Family over the years. Micky enjoyed going to the events throughout England, meeting up with competitors of old, as well as new carriage drivers joining the sport, and he often remarked that his favourite competition was the event at Barons Court in Northern Ireland. There are many tales of how he helped competitors out by repairing harness, nailing on lost shoes, and numerous tips on how to get the best from their horses, this was often rewarded by a liquid beverage as he would not take a penny from anyone for his expertise.

In 2002 Micky drove, at Royal Windsor Horse Show in ?All The Queens Horses? a Six-in-Hand team of Her Majesty the Queen?s Fell ponies to celebrate the Queens Golden Jubilee, Micky would have driven the Eight-in-Hand like he had driven the Eight-in-Hand Shires in 1977 for the Silver Jubilee, but one of the ponies was also being driven in the show as a single to the Queens Pony Phaeton.


In 1999, Micky Flynn was awarded an MVO (Member of the Royal Victorian Order) in the New Year's Honours list. Micky was part of the Bronze medal winning British Team at the 1984 World Championships in Hungary (black & white photograph - from left: HRH Duke of Edinburgh, Micky Flynn, George Bowman) and has been backstepping for the Duke of Edinburgh for many years (colour picture - Lowther 2005).

During his career with Prince Phillip Micky was made a member of the Coaching Club, for which he was deeply honoured, and in 2009 was awarded the Member of the Royal Victorian Order, (M.V.O). In March 2009 Micky and his family went to Buckingham Palace to be awarded, and receive, the M.V.O. from Her Majesty the Queen. This was a very proud moment for Micky and his family, but sadly sometime after this the news came out that he had been diagnosed with cancer which he bravely fought for over two years, and throughout this time still worked the ponies in between treatment. Sadly Micky passed away in the early hours of 2nd January 2011.

Micky was a tremendously gifted Coachman and had driven all types of horses from Fell Ponies, Hackneys, Lipizzaners, Coach Horses, Shire Horses, Singles, Pairs, Tandems, Randems, Teams of Four, Six, and Eight-in-hand. Micky also had numerous other skills, a harness maker, coach painter, whip maker, he could nail a shoe on, he was a tooth fairy, and had learnt the internal anatomy of the horse by the age of sixteen. He was a True Horseman. He would help anyone that was in trouble. He was very loyal to the people he worked for. His passing will be a great loss to the horse world and all who new him. Although Micky enjoyed the company of his fellow coachman, he was also very private man, but he would often say that Prince Phillip was the Best Boss he had ever worked for. You will be greatly missed Micky.

Our thoughts are with Marina, his devoted wife, and their two sons, Kevin and Barry, and their five Grandchildren.

R.I.P.

Paul Sidwell

 

The funeral will take place on Tuesday 25th January 2011, at 12pm, Midday, at The Royal Chapel, Royal Lodge, Bishops Gate, Windsor Great Park. SL4 2HW. Please enter Windsor Great Park by Bishops Gate Only (This was the Queen Mother?s residence). Following the service there will be a burial at Crimp Hill Cemetery, Old Windsor. The wake will take place after at the York Club, Windsor Great Park. All are invited to attend.

 
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