When Andrew Carnegie grappled with a knife-wielding thug who raided a Malmesbury jewellery shop he thought he was going to die.

The have-a-go hero narrowly avoided being stabbed in the chest with a seven inch blade as he desperately fought the knifeman and later received a bravery award for his actions.

Mr Carnegie, now 52, believes that his conversion to Christianity only six months earlier saved his life that day.

Now he will complete what he describes as a very strange personal journey when he will be among 17 North Wiltshire people who will receive a traditional style outdoor baptism by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Malmesbury Abbey on Saturday.

Weather permitting, the Most Rev the Lord Archbishop Justin Welby will “dunk” the men and women into a portable baptistery during what is believed to be the first ever visit to Malmesbury by an Archbishop of Canterbury.

Mr Carnegie, whose wife Adele will also be baptised during the ceremony, said: “As a baby I was the first child ever christened by Cormac Murphy O’Connor who went on from being a new local priest in Southsea to becoming the head of the English Catholic church. 

“I didn’t plan to be baptised by the current head of the Church of England but it does seem to be a unique completion of a very strange personal journey.”

Mr Carnegie, who lives near Malmesbury, once saw some people baptised in a swimming pool. But that will hardly compare to his ceremonious immersion within the hallowed grounds of the 1,300 year-old abbey site.

Was he nervous? “At the moment no, but on the day, probably.” Did he think water would be cold? “I would assume very,” he added.

Mr Carnegie’s brush with death came in October, 2012 when he heard the screams of shop assistant Alicia Bird who was being threatened with a knife by raider Christopher Pike.

He dashed into County Jewelers in Malmesbury High Street and wrestled with Pike who then ran off.

Pike, 30, was later jailed for eight years and Mr Carnegie, formerly a shopkeeper who is now involved in the medical industry, was awarded the Chief Constable’s Certificate of Appreciation.

Also being baptised by the Archbishop on Saturday is John Browning-Gower, 16 who is about begin a college engineering course at Chippenham.

John, who lives in Malmesbur and has been in foster care for six years, said: “I am a little nervous because it’s the Archbishop and a lot of people will be there.

“But it is a chance of a lifetime and I am really excited. I have never seen a dunking before but I have been to a christening.

“I think the water will be cold but not freezing.”

The baptisms are part of a number of events involving the Archbishop during a three day visit to the Diocese of Bristol this weekend.