Bill recently took time out to speak with Church of Scotland’s ‘Life & Work’ magazine about a typical month as Director for The BB in Scotland…..
Just under 130 years ago, William Alexander Smith got a group of Boys together in a church hall in Glasgow and the BB was formed. Every week since then, BB groups have been meeting across Scotland and throughout the world. Since 2009 I have been very privileged to head up the staff team at BB Scottish Headquarters, based at Carronvale House in Larbert. Our key purpose is to support and sustain the work of our local volunteer network. Essentially my job is all about trying to make the BB in Scotland bigger and better.
Most of each month is taken up with meetings both internal and external in addition to attending BB events across the country, so I usually clock up a good few miles each week. I have been trying to get better at using the train and public transport but that does not always work if you need to get home from a rural company on a Friday night. No two weeks or months are ever the same – one day I may be at a function at the parliament and the next reviewing plans for a Junior Section event or working on a fundraiser.
Weekend events mean I often go to a different church on a Sunday, or perhaps help lead worship at one of our own residential events. Otherwise, is always good to be able to get back to my own Kirk at Stenton in East Lothian. As an elder I do sometime feel a bit guilty that I am not always around for all our parish events. I have a small allotment to look after and I try to make time each week for a visit to friends or a trip to the cinema.
Whenever possible, I try to get out to actually visit one of our local groups weekly. It is always great to see what the boys are getting up to. The BB programme has developed greatly over the years, with the younger boys playing a range of games and also enjoying crafts. Our older sections are more likely to be found doing a cooking class, making videos or planning an expedition. However, the old favourites of vaulting, PT, first aid and football still crop up on a regular basis
The Brigade is growing again and today we have over 20,000 members in Scotland in 430 companies, roughly around 5% of the boy population in Scotland. Since 2008, we have also had some girls as members too. In the last 5 years the Brigade in the UK has established over 100 new companies, so a lot of my work has a focus on development not just setting up new companies but also supporting existing ones. In Scotland we have a great team of development officers and it is unusual for a day to go past without having a chat or a skype call with one of them
Over the last few years we have also been doing much to raise the profile of the Brigade and it is now pretty much a daily requirement to tweet or update Facebook about what I have been up to. Modern communications also mean that we have more immediate contact with BB colleagues, not just at home but also overseas and hardly a day goes by without a message from the BB in Zambia or Hong Kong.
So most months are busy, hectic and often challenging but I love it and I am blessed to have such a rewarding role and this opportunity to help advance His kingdom.