A CEREMONY has been held to mark 20 years since the Church of St Bartholomew, formerly the parish church for the village of Yeovilton, officially became The Fleet Air Arm Memorial Church. 

'St Bart's', as it is affectionately known held a service of celebration, reflection and remembrance as 20 years ago it was bought by the Royal Navy from the Diocese of Bath and Wells for the token amount of £1.

It was restored to serve as a memorial church for the whole Fleet Air Arm (FAA) community. 

Amongst those attending the special Service of Remembrance, Celebration and Thanksgiving were the First Sea Lord, Admiral George Zambellas KCB DSC ADC, Rear Admiral Sir Donald Gosling KCVO, who helped with the funding for the Church’s restoration and Rear Admiral Russ Harding OBE is Rear Admiral Fleet Air Arm.

The address was given by The Chaplain of the Fleet, The Revd Scott J Brown QHC BD and in it he said: “In this memorial church – this is about commemoration, thanksgiving and even celebration.

"Commemorating those from the FAA who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country in the cause of liberty and peace.

"As our gospel lesson reminds us, greater love has no one than this that one lay down ones life for one’s friends.”

The Rev Brown also acknowledged the humanitarian disaster relief effort in the Philippines that the Fleet Air Arm is helping with, adding: “In your remembering, you desire as a FAA community to bring light where there is darkness, a beacon of hope where there may be despair."

There are a number of airmen buried in the churchyard who sadly lost their lives serving their country.

There are also joyous occasions and many FAA personnel are married and have their children christened in this very special church.

Indeed, over the years it has become very much the spiritual home of the Fleet Air Arm family.

FAA representatives from across the rank spectrum, including many from RNAS Culdrose, packed the church on this very special and historic occasion.