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Rector is believed to have drowned during seaborne pilgrimage

17 April 2014


A RECTOR from Dorset whose body was discovered washed up on a beach on Monday of last week is thought to have drowned during a 150-mile seaborne pilgrimage to Cornwall.

The Revd Bob Thorn (above), Team Rector in the eight-church Bride Valley benefice in the diocese of Salisbury, set off for a beach near Falmouth in a ten-foot rowing boat in February. He was believed to have been on his way back to Dorset when his boat and, later, his body were washed ashore near Seatown, a few miles from his home in Burton Bradstock.

Dorset Police said that there were no suspicious circumstances.

The Bishop of Sherborne, the Rt Revd Graham Kings, said that Mr Thorn's death was a tragedy. "Bob wasn't an ordinary vicar: he was an extraordinary one - a one-off," he said. "He died as he lived, enjoying spiritual adventures. His Bible was found in his boat."

A spokesman for the diocese of Salisbury said that Mr Thorn had been keen on rowing and spending time alone. "He was really into Celtic spirituality, and very much into rowing off to places, praying, and rowing back again," he said.

The Archdeacon of Dorset, the Ven. Paul Taylor, said: "I am devastated. I knew Bob for ten years. Bob was man of deep principle and utter integrity. He cared deeply about honesty in relationships, and about the people and communities he ministered to in the Bride Valley.

"Bob had a particular commitment to pilgrimage, and saw the whole of life as a journey towards God - one that should be lived with the honesty and straightforwardness he held so dear."

Mr Thorn had announced his plans for his pilgrimage in the parish in October last year. He wrote: "I am taking off to find out in my own self what the Celtic saints were after when they went off alone, and sat either rapt in glory, or in a state of holy grumpiness in either squalid or splendid isolation."

He ended his letter asking his parishioners if they thought he was mad. "Answers, please, on the back of a piece of seaweed."

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