Baptism performed on Cowes lifeboat
A rare if not unique event in the annuls of RNLI history occurred at Cowes lifeboat station today (Saturday) when there was a baptism aboard its Atlantic 85 lifeboat.
Baptised was Freya, the two-year-old daughter of Alisdair and Heather Boden, who had been members of the lifeboat for the past eight years but were about to move home to the Lake District. The ceremony was conducted by the Rev Andrew Poppe, who as well as being vicar of St Mary’s Church in the town is also the station’s chaplain.
Members of the lifeboat and Alisdair and Heather’s family and friends gathered on the balconies of the station and adjoining Island Sailing Club to watch the proceedings. When the moment came for the actual baptism the Rev Poppe took Freya in his arms and used water that had been poured into a bowl placed in a lifeboat helmet.
Freya’s parents were joined on the lifeboat deck by a five-year-old niece, Faith Duncan, and the station’s Operations Manager, Mark Southwell; closely watching from the slipway were the two Godparents, Natalie Foster and Harry Leslie, a Deputy Launch Authority at the station.
To mark the event’s conclusion the Rev Poppe lit a candle and declared: “Freya, you have received the light of Christ, walk in this light all the days of your life.”
After resounding applause everyone adjourned to the Island Sailing Club for a buffet lunch. Alisdair, who has a new digital marketing job in Keswick, said: “We have loved our time in Cowes and the RNLI has been a massive part of it.
“As there is much talk of the ‘RNLI family’ we thought it would be nice farewell to our involvement with the lifeboat by having Freya baptised on it.”
He revealed that although there was no RNLI station in the Keswick area he was tempted to become a volunteer with the local mountain rescue.
The Rev Poppe said he could find no record of a baptism taking place on an RNLI inshore lifeboat before, although there had been at least one on an all-weather lifeboat.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.