Navy battler dies after daughter's baptism

CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 18:43 08/05/2012
ben revell
FELICITY REID / Fairfax NZ

PROUD MOMENT: Mum Malia Revell with Lusia Rose and dad Ben Revell during the ceremony on Te Mana.

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Navy sailor Ben Revell was holding out to see his daughter's baptism before he died in North Shore Hospital only hours later, according to the navy.

Revell, who suffered from motor neurone disease, died in the early hours of Saturday morning.

His first child, daughter Luisa Rose, was christened on the flight deck of his ship, HMNZS Te Mana, at Auckland's Devonport Naval Base last Friday.

"He went home and didn't feel great and then things just deteriorated," Navy spokesperson adviser Lieutenant Commander Angela Barker said.

"He must have been holding out so he his daughter's baptism."

One year ago, Revell was a fit and healthy sailor in the navy. He then became virtually bed-ridden and communicated through an electronic tablet. He was 27.

Revell was one of just a few Kiwis suffering from motor neurone disease – a debilitating and aggressive neurological disorder that has no cure. Only 300 New Zealanders are thought to suffer from this, most aged more than 50.

Revell was diagnosed after having trouble passing his Navy fitness test. Within six months he was struggling to walk or speak clearly.

The former Rosmini College student joined the navy in 2004 and had been working as an able electronic warfare specialist at the Joint Force Headquarters in Wellington.

He married wife Malia in June last year and they welcomed their baby girl Luisa Rose at the end of February. The proud father was present at her birth. Like any new dad, Ben thought his little girl was perfect.

"She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life," Revell said last week.

In an old navy tradition, the ship's bell was used, with the name of the baby engraved inside the bell.
Barker said despite Revell's illness the death had come as a shock.

There will be a military funeral with full ceremonial services on Friday followed by a  private cremation.

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