Next 25 Years
THE BOYS' BRIGADE – 1 ST GREENOCK COMPANY
1987 – 2012
After the Celebrations which marked the Centenary of the Company in 1987 life moved on into the second century of service to young people in Greenock. Changes in the physical environment continued in the area and in Church life. A merger took place between the congregations of St Andrew's and Union Church forming Ardgowan Parish Church and continuing to meet in the old St Andrew's building.
In 1992 after serving as Captain for 30 years, and as Acting Captain for a further 3 years, Mr Robin Currie retired from the captaincy. He had seen and managed many changes in the life of the Company. It had gone from a low point in 1963 of 10 boys to a healthy Company comprising 3 sections of Company, Juniors and Anchors with a combined membership approaching 85 boys. Mr Randal McLean, who had been with him for many years, took over as Captain. A task which he described as like following a legend.
The Company continued, and indeed increased in numbers, but with this increase came the problem of securing sufficient staff to offer varied programmes. The lack of staff did,however, have one good offshoot. The dedication of the staff, and other helpers brought in to assist with some activities, was brought to the fore and allowed programmes to change to meet modern requirements. In the late 1980's activities expanded to participation in National Competitions of Badminton, Chess, Table Tennis, Masterteam Quiz, Volleyball and 5 a side Football. Boys were given opportunities to meet many other boys from all parts of Scotland and beyond.
It was not long before boys representing the Company were getting to all parts of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland as they progressed in competitions. In 1990 at the Tryst in Cumbernauld the Senior 5 a side Football team became the first side from Inverclyde to win the United Kingdom & Ireland Championship. In 1991 the ‘brainboxes ‘ of the Company won the Scottish Championship at the Top of the Form Quiz. The final was to be held in Dublin! The Company had no money to get the boys to Dublin. An appeal was launched to the Ex-Members who had supported the Company at the Centenary. The problem was resolved and a surplus of £1200 resulted! The boys went to Dublin and finished in a very honourable 3 rd place.
In 1993 Greenock Battalion were asked to host the inaugural United Kingdom & Ireland Final of Badminton. The Company boys had fought their way to the finals only to take the runners-up slot, losing to 2 nd Polmont, who had 2 Scottish internationalists in their ranks.
Further participation in Scottish and National Finals followed in many of the National Competitions. In Millennium Year 2000 1 st Greenock was the only Company in the National Competitions to reach 2 Finals (Table Tennis and Badminton) staged on an ‘All Finals Day' to celebrate the Millennium.
Junior Section and Anchor Boys continued to operate with healthy numbers which, as the boys progressed, enabled the Company Section to remain numerically strong. New Badge Systems for all sections were introduced on a co-ordinated basis. More emphasis was placed on class-work and the awards structure than had been done in previous years. It proved popular with many boys and attainment of the 2 highest awards in the Boys' Brigade began to increase. Attainment of the President's Badge enabled a young man to attempt to obtain the Queen's Award. In this award the emphasis is on Leadership and the fundamental Christian value of Service to others before self. Young men wishing to attain this award required to complete a minimum of 30 hours service in the community and a further 30 hours service in the Company or Church.
Summer Camps had been features of company life for many years, having restarted in full format, at Ettrick Bay, Bute in 1965. Horizons had changed but camping continued on a regular basis with Cornwall and Yorkshire being popular venues. In Junior Section a weekend Activities Event was introduced and has proved popular with many boys. Hiking and hostelling was introduced for Company Section boys and over the years many a ‘lang scotch mile' has been tramped. Blisters gained in abundance but numerous friendships made.
As boys go forward to early manhood and seek to discover more about themselves and to realise more of others around them in their world many of them have been introduced ways of making contributions to the community in which they live. In 1993 a walk of the West Highland Way was undertaken by a group of senior lads. All of them sought sponsorship from a variety of sources and as a result a sizeable sum of money was raised for local good causes. In the intervening years 8 long distance walks have been enjoyed by seniors and no fewer than 9 local or Scottish based groups have benefitted financially as a result of the efforts of our young men.
In 2005 Mr McLean retired as captain, after 13 years and many years as an officer. Mr David Baillie took over the captaincy. Once again there was a need to encompass a new badge system in all sections of the Company. Change is something which is always with us in a rapidly changing world and once again life in 1 st Greenock has responded as numbers attending have reached approximately 90 in all sections.
National Competitions are still enjoyed in the company section programme. Success came when in 2010 the Under 14s 5 a side Football team brought the United Kingdom & Ireland title to Greenock.
Rev Ian Black, Chaplain at the Company Centenary wrote the following, which was valid then and is surely still valid today, 25 years further on in the history of 1 st Greenock
“No organisation survives purely on the basis of what it has been in the past. If what it has been in the past, however, fits it for life at each stage of its development, then growth continues on the basis of increasing strength. To have a lifespan of one hundred and twenty five years is no small achievement. To have evolved during that time the basis upon which the future can be attained is even more noteworthy. At this point in time there is much to be remembered. Each person who participates in the events of the 125 th Anniversary Celebration going back over the years. They will contain much that is joyful and probably also something that is sad, as we remember together past events and absent friends. Let us pray, however, that today, in 2012, we still retain much of the vision and foresight of those whose memory we honour, but also some of their determination to doggedly pursue our deeply held principles. Thomas Stewart expressed fear and trembling in 1887, without which, no doubt, the necessary adrenalin would never have coursed through the veins of the infant Company. We give thanks that from what was considered to be inauspicious beginnings we can look upon another chapter in the book of faith, and we can say with Peter “The inheritance to which we are born is one which nothing can destroy or spoil or wither… even gold passes through the assayer's fire, and more precious that perishable gold is faith which has stood the test”
In 1 st Greenock our Bible Class is at the centre of all that we try to covey to our boys.
With that recognition alone it is worthwhile reflecting on the past. With that recognition alone it is possible to face the future. Let us do so with confidence in the strength of God's purpose, giving thanks for what has been and anticipating with a sense of wonder what is yet to come.
In the Next 25 Years