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Celebrating our 140th Anniversary



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Deputy First Minister Praises Values of BB at Annual Conference in Edinburgh

Tuesday 4th September 2018

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, has praised the values promoted by The Boys’ Brigade (BB) in a keynote address to members at their annual conference in Edinburgh on Saturday (01 September).

Mr Swinney, who formerly attended the 13th Edinburgh BB company, reflected on the organisation’s values and the impact it’s had in his life and also how it has helped improve the life chances of many generations of young Scots.

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said:

“The Boys’ Brigade gave me a set of well-anchored values which have had a huge influence in forming my contribution to public life in Scotland. I owe The Boys’ Brigade a huge debt for the positive impact the organisation had on my life.

“I believe that The BB helps young people be more resilient, make the correct choices in life and encourages individuals to support others.”

For the first time in its 135 year history, The Boys’ Brigade annual conference was led by young people. Themed on 2018 – Scotland’s Year of Young People, the event brought together 200 BB volunteers from across the British Isles to develop skills and shape the future of the organisation.

Mr Swinney also emphasised the importance of youth organisations, like The Boys’ Brigade in tackling the poverty-related attainment gap.

Mr Swinney added:

“When we talk about closing the attainment gap, we don’t just talk about the school-based education system, we take a much broader perspective. This is one of the reasons we work with youth organisations – such as The Boys’ Brigade.

“In founding the organisation in 1883, Sir William Smith was tapping into the same issue and sentiment about the well-being and prospects of young people.”

Included in event were workshops on improving youth participation and additional support needs. In the morning, delegates heard from several young people from across the organisation sharing how BB has shaped their lives.

Fiona Graham, young leader with the Blackburn BB group in West Lothian, said:

“The Boys’ Brigade means opportunities without boundaries. As a young leader, it has given me the opportunity to discover myself, develop skills and grow in confidence in a safe environment.”

The conference weekend opened on Friday evening with a reception and remarks from the Right Honourable Frank Ross, Lord Provost of Edinburgh. Mr Ross was formerly a member of The Boys’ Brigade.

The conference dinner on the Saturday included first-class performances from young BB leader Ross Fettes, the Wishaw & District Brigade Band and members of 10th Leith company.

Sunday morning worship, held in Palmerston Place church, was led by Rev Dr George Whyte, Principal Clerk to the Church of Scotland alongside young leaders from The Boys’ Brigade in Scotland.


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