Adventuring vicar Arthur Champion, who travelled in the Amazon with Neil Armstrong, takes up residence in Bourton-on-the-Water
HE HUNTED aliens in the Amazon rainforest with Neil Armstrong and was part of a world record-breaking caving team, but Reverend Arthur Champion has packed all that in to take up residence as assistant vicar in Bourton-on-the-Water.
Rev Champion, 61, has taken up the post at the benefice of Bourton-on-the-Water with Clapton and The Rissingtons, working alongside current rector Rev Rachel Rosborough.
Before being ordained in 2008, Rev Champion was part of a 1976 expedition to the Amazon – of which Neil Armstrong was honorary president – to investigate claims by Swiss author Erich von Däniken that caves in the rainforest had been formed by lasers from space.
von Däniken was famous for his book Chariots of the Gods? in which he theorised that early religions and technologies were inspired by extraterrestrial visitors to Earth.
Although Armstrong –the first man to set foot on the Moon – did not initially travel with the team, once they had established the caves were not the work of mischievous little green men but were littered with seashells and fragments of pottery, he joined the expedition to see for himself.
Rev Champion said, as the team’s health and safety officer, it was his job to make sure the Apollo 11 hero – who died last year aged 82 – was securely strapped in when being lowered into the caves.
“The one thought that came to my mind was that if it went wrong the one good thing that would come out of it is that it would really put the expedition on the map,” he said.
“All those men in white coats had spent so long making sure he was safe in space but here it all came down to me tying a knot properly.”
Prior to his alien-hunting Rev Champion was part of an Anglo-American team that broke the world depth record in 1974 in the French Pyrenees and is still part of a cave rescue team based in the Forest of Dean.
Before moving to Bourton he served congregations in Badgeworth, Shurdington and Witcombe and also works as a global health and safety manager with a Swiss insurance company.
Rev Champion said both he and his wife Margaret, who recently became grandparents for the first time, were looking forward to getting to know their new home.
“It feels a bit scary to leave our comfort zone in the Shurdington group of parishes but we sense God is leading us and that makes all the difference,” he said.