6th Newtownards Boys Brigade Company meets in Strean Church Halls on a Tuesday evening during term-time.
Annual Report December 2017
The Boys’ Brigade is still one of the largest Christian uniformed youth organisations in the United Kingdom, with 45,000 members and almost 12,500 adult leaders and helpers currently. Although founded in 1883, BB remains as relevant today to boys and young men and continues to promote its Object of Advancing Christ’s Kingdom amongst Boys.
6th Newtownards Company was formed in 1968, as part of Strean Presbyterian Church. Our company has steadily developed under five previous Captains, with the two most recent of these being John Black (1977 to 1992) and Wallace McKee (1992 to 1997). The present Captain has been Stephen Boyle since 1998.
Our BB prides itself on running high quality, age appropriate programmes for our four age groupings – Anchor Boys (P1 – P4), Junior Section (P5 – P7), Company Section (Year 8 – Year 11), and Senior Section (Year 12 +). These programmes are structured by Brigade HQ, and we develop these to suit our resources and numbers. Above all else, we encourage each of our young people to develop to their full potential within a supportive Christian environment.
Scripture lessons and badge work for all age groupings remain the cornerstones of our programmes. Junior Section members strive to achieve the Gold Badge in their P7 year, our Company Section boys achieve the President’s Badge in Year 11, and our Seniors work over two years towards the achievement of the highest award in BB – the Queen’s Badge. To demonstrate our success rates, between 1999 and 2016 a total of 42 boys have gained the President’s Badge and 22 young men the Queen’s Badge.
However, we regularly seek to enhance our programmes by engaging with outside bodies and activities, and in recent years we have enjoyed visits either to or from IKEA, RNLI, PSNI, RSPB, NI Parliament Buildings, NI Fire & Rescue Service, Somme Centre, Ulster Aviation Society, BB Ganaway, a Tesco supply farm, etc. Most years see us taking groups for outdoor pursuits weekends to the Ardnabannon Centre , and also to Ulster Rugby’s Kingspan Stadium to take in a Pro 14 match.
We have successfully fundraised over the past 20 years in order to support Christian outreach initiatives and BB NI mission projects, as well as contributing towards building and running costs of our church. In 2011, close on the heels of Strean’s successful Welcome Project when we rebuilt most of our halls complex, our BB family gifted a magnificent BB stained glass window to our church.
In terms of staff, we are blessed to have a fully trained team of 10 committed officers, some of whom have come right through our ranks from Anchor Boys to being adult leaders. Our Chaplain is our minister in Strean, Rev. Jeff McWatters. All leaders are Access NI checked and trained in current Taking Care Two guidelines.
A measure of our company’s ability to deliver children’s and youth work happened in 2015 when we were one of only 25 companies in Northern Ireland selected to be audited by the Department of Education as part of the first such review of uniformed youth organisations. Boys’ Brigade NI received an excellent rating in the published report, and our inspector described our own company’s capabilities and programmes as outstanding.
Our strategic plan continues to be focussed on Advancing Christ’s Kingdom amongst Boys and Young Men, and to identify and develop new leaders, and we continue to prayerfully strive to achieve these goals.