A rather unique event in the history of the RNLI occurred at Cowes Lifeboat Station yesterday (Saturday) when there was a baptism aboard an Atlantic 85 lifeboat.
Freya, the 2-year-old daughter of Alisdair and Heather Boden, was baptised on board the lifeboat on the slipway. Both Alisdair and Heather have been members of Cowes RNLI for the past 8 years but are 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 crew 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 in a lifeboat helmet.
Freya’s parents were joined on the lifeboat deck by a 5-year-old niece, Faith Duncan, and the station’s Operations Manager, Mark Southwell; closely watching from the slipway were the 2 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.