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Celebrating our 140th Anniversary

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Wednesday 22nd May 2019

Some BB events always stick in your mind. I was ten and in a Junior Section Choir at the Leith Community Centre in Edinburgh. It was the finale of the Battalion Show or Extravaganza and we sung the song a “Mighty Band of Brothers”. Today we may think the words are rather Victorian, but it did have a great tune and I can still remember some of the words after all these years.

We’re a mighty band of brothers, spreading out across the world. Over continent and island see the BB flag unfurled.

I never guessed that I would eventually end up writing some words for the Gazette but I was fascinated then to learn more about the Brigade overseas. I recall our Junior Section set up a pen pal scheme and we would dispatch a letter in the post and then wait weeks or was it months for a reply from a BB Company in another part of the world. It brought home that we were all part of a worldwide movement.

Of course, life is much different now and I receive e-mails or Facebook messages from colleagues and friends in the BB across the globe frequently. It is always encouraging to hear from them and whenever I have been abroad I have always tried to make contact with the local BB Leaders.

This January I was able to visit the BB in Tobago. They have recently restarted two Companies on the island and the Boys and Leaders were just as enthusiastic as any new members here. Last November some BB leaders from New Zealand visited the UK and it was a great opportunity to share ideas and views.

What has been particularly noticeable is that although the infrastructure varies in different countries, we all face similar challenges. Finance and membership usually top the list, and everyone agrees that we need enthusiastic Leaders to keep the Brigade going. The demographics are different though, already a fifth of the world’s young people aged under 15 are in Africa and it has been suggested that proportion will rise to a third by 2050. Whereas in many parts on the UK we have seen a noticeable decline of young people in cities which has had a real impact on our membership.

The International aspect of our work can add a new and exciting element to Company programmes. In recent years many young leaders have benefited from exchange programmes and participating in events like the European Fellowship Easter Course. Please look out for ways that you can connect with Brigade friends in other parts of the world. We have recently re- established our International Group and are looking to provide more support in this area.

Later this year I am looking forward to returning to Lusaka, Zambia where Global Fellowship is holding its conference. I’m sure we will discuss many of the shared challenges, but also spend time to reflect and give thanks for the life-changing impact The Boys’ Brigade is having across many continents.

Bill Stevenson
Brigade Secretary & CEO

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