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A Place of Worship
Banbridge Road Presbyterian church





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 1950/51.


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.

One 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 Company, Ulsterville.

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 members who won the Chaplain's Shield 1950

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 (Vice-President).

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.

Junior; Senior; Brigader Sections with Officers and Captain and Chaplain 1988

The 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., B.D.

Junior; Senior; 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 1984.

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.