Tributes to Sidmouth’s Rev Bowers and his ‘unshakable’ faith

Rev Allan Bowers

Rev Allan Bowers - Credit: Archant

A gifted and artistic Methodist minister, who penned the Herald’s Religion column for many years, will be remembered most of all for his unshakable faith. The Reverend Allan Bowers’ life was shaped from an early age by the church, the thrill of being in front on an audience and his love of painting.

Born in London on April 2, 1923, he died in Sidmouth on April 17 at the age of 94. A thanksgiving service will be held in Sidmouth Methodist Church at 2.30pm on Friday, May 5.

Allan was 16 when World War Two broke out and he and his sister Grace left London for Devon. Some days after their arrival, they received a letter saying their house had been bombed and their mother had been killed. This had a profound effect on Allan for the rest of his life.

Not long afterwards, he went to live with his devout Christian Godparents in Bournemouth, then came his call to the RAF. It was on his posting to Battersea that he recognised his calling and received a note to preach.

He transferred to the RAF medical branch and was posted to Sidmouth. In 1942, he preached for the first of many times at the Methodist Church.

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Following the war, he felt the call to become a minister and was posted to Derbyshire, where met secretary Betty Bird, who was to be his wife of 55 years. At the end of a tour of duty in Hong Kong, he was stationed in Folkestone, where he was reunited with Betty and in 1955 their daughter Jane was born.

The family continued to move around, but managed to buy a holiday home in Sidford. This was soon followed by an invitation to the Sidmouth and Bridport circuit and a move to Axminster, where Allan threw himself into fundraising for a new church in Seaton. It was a proud day when the church opened and there was another a few months later when his only granddaughter, Lucy, was the first person to be christened there.

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Allan never really retired and he continued to preach regularly until he was well over 90. He started writing the Herald’s religion column in 2010 and published two collections of these articles, and also saw a number of the hymns he penned in print.

After his beloved wife Betty died in 2007, and right until the last few months, Allan remained fiercely independent, but after a couple of spells last summer he moved to Fourways Residential Home, where he was well looked after.

His family said: “Allan will always be remembered as being creative, gifted, artistic, perhaps sometimes a little eccentric, but most of all for his strong, unshakable faith.”

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