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AET Andy Bell & Rev Tudor Botwood
AET Andy Bell & Rev Tudor Botwood

RN baptism done His way

Published: 31 Jul 2012

In the shadow of Saint Bartholomew’s Church, the Fleet Air Arm Memorial Church in Yeovilton village Somerset, a special ceremony was conducted that has been practiced for over two thousand years. Royal Naval Chaplain the Reverend Tudor Botwood, team leader of the Chaplaincy at RNAS Yeovilton carried out the River Baptism of Air Engineer Technician Andrew Bell of 815 Naval Air Squadron stationed at the Naval Base.

Although not a rare occurrence this is a first for RNAS Yeovilton and the Fleet Air Arm. Reverend Tudor Botwood explains, “We love baptising outdoors there’s something nice about being out in Gods creation. There’s something really special about Baptising in a River, by a Weir is always interesting because you’re worried sick that your foot will slip and you’ll go careering down-stream”

Despite a typical British Summers day, overcast with showers, spirits were high amongst the curious and the devoted that came to see the immersion Baptism of Airman Andy Bell, who was being Baptised 3 weeks before his wedding to his fiancée Monica Urban, in near by Yeovil. Any nerves on his part were soon dismissed as the Naval Chaplain showed Andy the drill. Tudor is an old hand at Baptising personnel in the Navy. When he was the Chaplain at 42 Commando Royal Marines he was asked to Baptise a Royal Marine in Bickleigh Vale, at the bottom of a very deep gorge on Dartmoor. On that occasion the whole company turned out to see the ceremony and he even had to post safety swimmers down-stream in case the fast flow took the newly Baptised Marine away. Luckily on this occasion there was only a gentle flowing mill stream to contend with.

Andy said, “It was good, it was a bit cold when we first went in but it soon warmed up. It was quite liberating.

I did wonder if I was going to come back up, it seemed such a long time under water.”

The Baptism took place at the Weir in Yeovilton Village a deep flowing conference of the River Yeo that would normally be the scene for picnics and rambler’s enjoying the beautiful South Somerset countryside and walking along the river paths and levels.

Rev Tudor Botwood summarised the occasion, “I’ve been a Baptist minister for 20 years, so I’m used to Baptising in a river, some people do it in tanks at the side but what’s most important is a full immersion Baptism.

As we like to say, we baptise His way!”


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