While the Senior and Junior G.A. and B.A. had
served the needs of the young people of the congregation well in the
late Thirties and Forties, early in Mr. Moore's ministry it was felt
that the time had come to change over to uniformed organizations,
and so in 1949 the G.B. and B.B. were started. At-the time suitable
leadership was available � Miss M. E. McCracken, a teacher in
Dromore Primary School, offered her help and was appointed captain
of the G.B. company. Samuel S. R. Patterson, B. Com Sc., who had
recently been appointed headmaster of the same school and who had
been Captain of the 49th Belfast Company, Dundonald Presbyterian
Church, and had joined the congregation, was a natural choice for
Captain of the B.B.
The story of the G.B. and B.B. by any standards
is a success story. Both organizations proved to be of inestimable
value in the life of the congregation and a blessing to several
generations of young people.
The Boys' Brigade
THE BOYS' BRIGADE
The first meeting was held in September 1949. As
well as Samuel Patterson there were two other officers with some B.B.
experience � Cecil Whan and Robin Coulter. By the time the first
enrolment was held the Company had a membership of 17 boys. At the
same time a Life Boy team was commenced which increased in numbers
very quickly. Mr Harris Cummings, a school teacher, was leader
in-charge. The Company was given the number `third' Dromore.
The new Company was given every encouragement and
support � the congregational Committee giving considerable financial
help. It was not long
until the Company was giving a good account of itself especially in the
Annual District Squad Drill competition, which it won on a number of
occasions. A year after the Company was started the first camp was held
under canvas in a field near Newcastle and proved a great success. This,
in spite of the fact that one of the boys, Norman Smyth, broke his ankle
just before a bus load of visitors arrived. Later for several years the
Company went to the Battalion camp at Ganaway, Co. Down. The Rev. Moore
was appointed Chaplain and the captain and officers of Third Dromore
played a valuable part
in the running of that camp which attracted B.B. boys from all over the
Province. Later the Company became more ambitious, and for a number of
years `camps' were held in church halls in Portrush, Bray, Port
Erin-Isle of Man, Ayr, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Southport.
On a number of occasions the B.B. and G.B. went
together for their holiday. The popularity of the summer camp in those
days can be judged by the fact that there were over 70 officers, girls
and boys at the Glasgow camp.
Officers of the B.B. Company at The
21st Anniversary Dinner
For many years, apart from a First Aid kit, the only
medicine was a bottle of pills of different colour. These were carried
in the pocket of the chaplain, and were dished out at random. It was
said that he had no idea what each was for, but red, white or blue each
seemed to `do the trick.'
It was while camping in Scotland that the captain
discovered that there were in Scotland pre Life Boy groups. The idea
seemed a good one, so a group was started the following autumn. It was
called the Cabin Boys, a name soon to be adopted by others. Later, when
Headquarters took up the idea, the official name became the Robins. This
in turn was changed to the Anchor Boys.
of the officers, Nelson Andrews became Captain of the 1st Dromara
Company and is at present Captain of The Sloan Street Company.
As the years went by and there were more and more
distractions the senior Company section had some difficulty in keeping
the interest of the older boys. The Anchor Boys and the Life Boys always
had plenty of enthusiastic younger boys. The Life Boys (now the Juniors)
had only three leaders-in-charge over the forty year period � Harris
Cummings, John Wilkinson and Clifford Thompson. The Anchor Boys had the
leadership of a succession of dedicated young ladies. Mrs Dorothy Sloan
is the present leader.
The B.B., after Samuel R. Patterson resigned, had a
number of captains who gave excellent service, Terry Ogle and Stewart
Cameron acting captains until Tom Shields was appointed. In 1980 he was
succeeded by Lloyd Pollock, and in 1982 Brian Patterson, a son of the
founder, took over. Again in 1984 the Company found itself without a
captain. Colin Shields took on the responsibility and acted as captain
for a year. He was popular and kept
the company together. After the Rev. Boyd became
minister there was not, at that time, anyone qualified, and willing to
take on the captaincy so Mr. Boyd took on the responsibility for a year.
At the beginning of the session 1987 Mark Patterson, the youngest son of
S. R. Patterson, was appointed. While the Company sections remain small
in number, it is an effective and efficient company.
One of the highlights in the Company's history was
the period when the numbers and enthusiasm were so strong that a pipe
band was commenced. John A. Magill, a well known piper the grandfather
of two of the boys, Billy and Andrew Whithorn, promoted the band and
trained the boys who were interested. There were six pipers, drummers
and drum major. Not only did they play well and had many invitations to
lead parades, but they looked well, for they were dressed immaculately
from head to toe in the style of a Scottish piper. They were a credit to
the Company. It was a fine picture to see the band leading the parade of
the G.B. and B.B. members to their Enrolment Service on Sunday morning.
The Company did not have colours until May 1971. On
Sunday, 2nd May, at a special service held in the afternoon, Company
Colours were dedicated by the Rev. W. T. Coburn, convener, Christian
Education Committee, Down Battalion. The Company Colour was presented by
S. R. Patterson, the founder and first captain and Mrs. Patterson.
The Old Boys of the Company presented The Queen's
Colour. The Praise was led by the Silver Band of the 34th Belfast
The Anchor Boys with
their Leaders: Spring 1988
The Junior B. B. their
inspection, Spring 1988. Back row: Leaders left ro right:-
Billy Wilson, Betty Brown and Leader in Charge Clifford Thompson
The Boys' Brigade at
their display, Spring 1988, also in the picture are the Rev. and
Mrs. Boyd and the
Inspecting Officer Mr. Jim Moore and his wife
THE GIRLS' BRIGADE
Back row:� Mrs. G.
Miskimmons, Miss M. Coulter, Mrs B McCandless, Miss I
McCracken. Front row:� Mrs E. McDonald (Foundation
member and Captain for 32 years), The Very Rev. Dr. John
Carson, Rev. H. R. Moore, Miss M. McCracken.
The Girls' Brigade
members who won the
Chaplain's Shield 1950
With the Boys' Brigade under way it was only a
matter of weeks until a Girls' Brigade was formed. Although Miss M.
E. McCracken had no experience of Girls' Brigade work she was
determined to have the Company started on the right lines and she
took steps to be well informed about every aspect of a company's
life and work, with the result that, the Company ran smoothly from
the beginning. The Captain was fortunate in having the support of
four dedicated officers, Isobel McCracken (her sister), Nena
Johnston, Eva McCready and Violet Weir. Isobel is still an officer
with the Company and there are three others who were in the ranks
when the Company was formed and who are now serving officers �
Margaret Coulter, Gwen Miskimmins and Elizabeth McDonald who became
captain in 1957. The Company was known as the 30th N.I. Company,
later in 1977 the number was changed to the 58th N. I. Company.
Right from its earliest years the Company gave a
good account of itself, individuals and teams bringing credit to
their officers. For instance, in their first year, the junior team
was first in `B' section of the N.I. Btn. drill competition, and
Margaret McCready gained 100% in the District Bible Examination.
This was repeated by her on two other occasions. In 1953 the Junior
Drill Team came third in an all Ireland final held in Dublin.
The chaplain, the Rev H. R. Moore, commended the
members who gained the Northern Ireland Scripture Shield in 1953 and
again in 1956. It was a high honour indeed.
When Miss McCracken retired after 8 years the
Company was exceedingly fortunate in that Elizabeth Shields (later
McDonald) was, though very young, willing to take on the
responsibility of a large and growing Company with more activities
being added each year. From the beginning her enthusiasm was such
that she made the Company known throughout the Province as one that
always played its part and which had to be reckoned with at all
levels of G. B. work. Five members of the Company received their
Duke of Edinburgh Gold award � Rea Jones, Olivia Moore and Eleanor
Shields in 1966 and Freda Jones and Margaret Kerr in 1973. All
received their awards in Buckingham Palace. On the 1973 occasion the
captain had the honour of being in charge of the Northern Ireland
winners and was introduced to the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Twenty-first Birthday Cake. Back row:� Mrs.
G. Miskimmons, Miss L Watson, Miss I McCracken, Miss
M. Coulter, Mrs. B. McLenahin Front row:� Miss M.
McCracken (Founder), Mrs. E. McDonald (Captain),
Mrs. E. Moore (President), Mrs. W. Weir
A considerable part of the long success story of
the Company, is due to the fact that there has been stable
leadership for 40 years.
Girl's Brigade 1950/51
Explorer Section with Officers and Captain. 1988
Shortly after Mrs McDonald took over, Company
colours were dedicated by the Moderator The Rt. Rev. Professor R. J.
Wilson, M.A., B.D. on Sunday, 12th January, 1958 at a special
service. After the amalgamation of the Girls' Guildry, the Girls'
Life Brigade, and the Girls' Brigade there was a new badge and the
company was given a new number, so in 1978 new colours were
dedicated; again by the Moderator, who was the Right Rev. David
Burke B.A., D.D. On the occasion of the G.B. and the B.B.
celebrating their 21st Anniversary a Thanksgiving Service was held
on the 31st May 1979. The service was conducted by the Chaplain and
the address given by the Moderator, the Rt. Rev John T. Carson B.A.,
Brigader Sections with Officers and Captain and Chaplain 1988
While every display represented an enormous
amount of hard work and originality by the officers and the
co-operation of the girls, the 21st and the 25th displays were
special occasions. At the 21st display the awards were presented by
Lady McDermott, who was Vice-President of the Girls' Brigade
organization and all the members received anniversary plaques to
mark the celebration.
The 25th display was held in April 1974. It was a
right royal occasion. The highlight was an item `This Is Your Life'
when the faithful service of the Captain, Mrs McDonald, was recalled
and she received from special guests 25 roses each marking some
aspect of her work. Finally the Rt. Rev. J. W. Orr, Moderator of the
General Assembly, presented her with a silver candelabra on behalf
of the Company.
As is indicated in the B.B. history, the Girls'
and Boys' Brigades camped together on a number of occasions using
schools or church halls. In more recent years the G.B. have had
their summer holiday on their own. One of the most interesting was a
three-week visit to West Germany. This was in response to a visit of
a group of thirty German young people to Dromore in 1977. They were
from the Cologne area and were made comfortable in the church halls.
The ladies of the congregation helped the officers to make the
meals, the visitors also playing their part in cooking and keeping
the halls clean. They went on a-number of bus tours to see Northern
Ireland's beauty spots.
The visitors presented the congregation with a
ceramic Communion chalice and plate. When the time came the
following year for the return visit the Banbridge Road girls were
joined by a few young people from First Dromore. It proved a very
interesting and valuable holiday. While there the party paid a visit
to East Berlin, as well as spending a week in West Berlin.
In recent years some of the members have taken up
special interests such as public speaking, and a team of Brigadiers:
Heather Watson, Alison Mulligan, and Gwyneth Wilkinson won the
Northern Ireland Public Speaking Competition in 1986 and 1987. The
1987 team was Heather, Alison and Helen Russell. Home safety was
also another subject which was taken up with success. For instance
in 1978, Helen Russell was first in the N.I. Home Safety Competition
and was awarded the I.T.V. Silver Trophy, Gwyneth Wilkinson gained
second place in N.I. in 1987. Choral Speaking was another area where
there was success, not only at the district level, but also in the
N.I. final. In the Junior Choral Speaking a team gained first place
In 1988 the Company again won the N.I. Chaplain's
Shield for scripture having won the Lagan District Scripture Trophy.
The Company now over 125 strong will soon be
celebrating its 40th anniversary. They have the Good Wishes of the
whole congregation. Officers at the end of the 39th session:- Mrs
Elizabeth McDonald - (Captain) Isobel McCracken, Gwen Miskimmins,
Margaret Coulter, Eleanor Shields, Olive Clarke, Margaret Wilkinson,
Hilary Shields, Anona Pollock, Jennifer Whan, Lynda Watson, Betty
McCandless, Sharon Perry, Sharon Oldham, Suzanne Miskimmins, Hilary
Barr, Patricia Clydesdale.
The captains and officers of the G.B. and B.B.
over the years could never be sufficiently praised for their work
well done and it was worth doing well. How many girls and boys are
better people today living by Christian faith, serving their
generation more faithfully because of their training in the brigades
will never be known in time.
All one can say is: THANK GOD FOR THOSE WHO
HAVE GIVEN THEMSELVES IN GOD'S SERVICE THROUGH THE GIRLS' BRIGADE
AND BOYS' BRIGADE.