Sailor helps Warsash vicar on water to say ‘thank you’

Nigel Rennie and Andy Norris
Nigel Rennie and Andy Norris
Driftwood Festival organiser Paul Cobb  Picture: Malcolm Wells (142242-6774C)

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IT seemed like a fair swap – Nigel Rennie taught the Rev Andy Norris how to sail after Andy had taught him about Christianity.

Nigel helped his local vicar through his sailing exams to thank him for leading a 10-week Alpha course that explained the basics of faith.

The 53-year-old sailing instructor and examiner was part of Andy’s congregation at St Mary’s Church, Warsash, before Andy, 51, moved to become rector of St Mary’s Church, Alverstoke, this summer.

Andy and Nigel became friends when Nigel’s son Thomas became seriously ill when he was just six weeks old. Thomas had a heart condition and was taken into St Mary’s Hospital in Portsmouth, where his heart stopped twice. Andy was Nigel’s vicar and visited the family in hospital. Nigel and his family had recently started coming to St Mary’s Church in Warsash.

In 2012, Nigel helped Andy to prepare to sail around Britain, and mentored him for his sea survival and diesel engine courses. And he helped him through his yachtsmaster offshore exam earlier this year. Nigel is an instructor/examiner for the Royal Yachting Association, so knew what would be required.

Nigel said: “I do think each of us should use our skills to help each other. You can’t always help the person who helps you, but I was more than happy to help Andy through his exam as he had been such a support to me and my family.’