THIS weekend (Friday 21 to Sunday September 23) various events will be taking place at St. Mark's Church on the Ballymacash Road to mark an important anniversary for the 1st Ballymacash Scout Group.
It is 85 years since the Scout patrols, then meeting at Ballymacash, were first registered as a separate Scout Troop. On Friday evening September 21 at 7.30pm there will be a tree-planting ceremony in the grounds of St. Mark's. The trees will be planted by Mrs. Iris Currie in memory of her late husband, Ernest Currie who served for many years as Chairman of the Scout Group Council and by Mrs. Audrey Gifford, a former Scout Group Leader, in memory of her late husband Bob Gifford who was leader of the Cub Pack from 1970 to 1983. Then on Sunday September 23 after the 11.00am Youth Parade Service the congregation will be invited for refreshments in the Parochial Hall where an historical exhibition has been mounted. The Historical Exhibition traces the history of Scouting in Ballymacash from the early days right up to the present, and a comprehensive collection of artifacts, photographs, scrapbooks and reports will be on display. The Exhibition will remain open for viewing by the public from 12.00 noon to 4.00pm on Sunday, September 23.
Scouting began in Ballymacash in 1911 when the Reverend T.J. Armstrong, Curate of Derriaghy introduced a Scout Troop to the Parish with patrols meeting at the Schoolhouses in Derriaghy and Ballymacash. The first Scoutmaster was Lieutenant Edward (Eddie) Brown who was killed in action during the Great War of 1914-1918. Several generations of the Brown family worshipped at St. Mark's and Eddie 's father Robert and his brother Billy both served as Treasurer of the Church. Billy Brown, as well as being an early leader of the Scouts at Ballymacash went on to become Secretary of the County Antrim Scout Council and was awarded the Silver Wolf. The Scout patrols which met at Ballymacash were registered in 1927 as the 22nd Belfast Troop and the Church still holds the inter patrol shield used in the late 1920's. The first leader of the 22nd Belfast was Billy Brown with Jeff Ferning as his assistant. The new scarf was red with a blue border. Jeff Ferning who, like Billy Brown was a member of St. Mark's Church, went on to hold many of the senior positions in Scouting at County and National level. He took over from Billy Brown in 1930 and was still in the position of leader in 1934 when the 22nd Belfast was re-registered as 1st Ballymacash with the formation of Lisburn Scout District.
Jeff Fenning went onto serve as District Commissioner, County Commissioner for Antrim, City Commissioner for Belfast and in 1967 reached the pinnacle of his Scouting career as Deputy Chief Commissioner for Northern Ireland.
The Historical Exhibition provides a wealth of information about the huge contribution made over the past century by the members of the Scouts at Ballymacash. There are comprehensive reports of Jamborees attended by the Scout Group down through the years in places as far flung as Japan, Australia, Chile, the United States of America and various locations on the European mainland. The leaders of 1st Ballymacash Scout Group extend a warm welcome to everyone wishing to attend the Special Service on Sunday September 23 at 11.00am and trust that many will be able to view the Historical Exhibition on Sunday afternoon.