#iamaBBleader because…

David Sneddon is currently the BB Scotland Committee Chair and also a company officer in Bothwell.  David took a moment to reflect on his role as BB leader.

My “BB life” began in the Life Boy team at 1st _DSC0043
Bothwell in 1965.  The Company was fairly small but very vibrant; there was always a buzz on BB night and always plenty of things to do. As a 12 year old, the concept of being well organised, was probably something I didn’t really think about – and yet the Company must have been, as there were activities on 3 nights per week plus sports and competitions most Saturday mornings, and of course Bible Class on a Sunday. Highlights from these times include meeting my friends, Company camps, the expedition hikes, gaining my Queen’s Badge and even the one and only time we won the Battalion drill competition when I was a Boy!

I became a BB leader, like many other people, because I wanted to share what I had enjoyed in the BB with the next or possibly even future generations.

As a young leader I learned a great deal from the other officers, not only at 1st Bothwell, but also officers in other Companies – especially my peers as we completed our Officers’ Basic Training together. One particular highlight as a young leader was how early the Captain and seniors gave me their trust as I was allowed to organise and lead weekends away for our N.C.Os as part of their leadership training.

Thistle ServiceI have served in many different roles both in Hamilton and District Battalion and within the Lanarkshire District Fellowship, learning all the time and sharing marvellous experiences with young people from around the county and from across Scotland.

Every organisation I have ever worked in has had its own hierarchy and structure. The Scotland Committee of the BB takes an overview of all BB work in Scotland and aims to support Battalions around the country to provide the best support which they in turn provide to the local Companies.

In my time on the Committee I have been privileged to work along-side many talented people on a variety of “work groups”. It is also my privilege to be the current Chairman of the Scotland Committee, which I see as not just the task of chairing the regular meetings, but also representing the BB in Scotland at appropriate events to promote the BB or to share views and ideas with our kindred organisations.

Being the Chairman of the Scotland Committee sounds very important; it is however simply a job that needs to be done. My first and most important job is still to work with our young people in Bothwell – I particularly enjoy working with the seniors and young leaders and hope to continue to try to offer them the opportunities and experiences which I have enjoyed through membership of the BB.

Given my experiences and my passion for BB, the statement “I am a BB leader because”, for me should read “I am still a BB leader because”, even after 50+ years’ service in the BB!

Find out more about the #iamaBBleader campaign here and learn more about BB volunteering on our website.


‘The best week of my life!’ And this is from a member of staff?!

BB Scottish HQ’s Training & Development Officer, Alan Hunter, oversees the training delivered across the organisation in Scotland and even finds time to coordinate some of The BB’s biggest national events too!

But, for a couple of weeks each summer, his focus is firmly on supporting BB young leaders, aged 17 to 22, in the KGVI Youth Leadership course.  The residential training experience is like no other the organisation offers and equips BB young people with the tools, skills and attitudes to be effective BB leaders, which takes place at the National Training and Recreation centre at Carronvale House.

Once he finally caught his breath from the seven days and six sleepless nights, Alan reflected on yet another frantic, but rewarding week of KGVI!

Alan Hunter, Training & Development Officer

Alan Hunter, Training & Development Officer

‪#‎KGVI60 complete…and now I have that weird mixture of sad and happy all rolled into one! And then I remember that wonderful quote, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened’.

What an amazing week, shared with another excellent bunch of lads, who each brought their own individuality to the course, but gelled very quickly into strong team. But what makes KGVI any different from something like Queen’s Badge? I suppose it’s the fact that the participants are all there because they want to be, they have chosen that path, to complete training and become officers…in their words, ‘giving something back’ for the positive experience they have received, rather than perhaps just ticking a box.

And then there’s the staff team, what can I say, a great bunch that I am proud, not to call colleagues, but good friends. Like the Cadets, a group of individuals, who come together to produce an awesome team. I always say that KGVI is the profit sharing of my job. Would I change all the work that’s required before and after? Not a bit of it, it’s a great privilege being part of the team, but even moreso being able to put that team together. Do I always get it right? No, not always, but I reckon the two teams this year were spot on.

Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison, Moderator CofS General Assembly, spent time with Cadets

Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison, Moderator CofS General Assembly, spent time with Cadets

60 years on and whilst I don’t know what the early years were like (before anyone suggests I was there) I am fairly certain that the ethos and impact of the KGVI experience is still the same. The packaging and content may have changed, keeping it fresh and fit for purpose, but the foundations are still intact. Society tells us that young people don’t do Christian Faith…oh I think you should think again society…it’s certainly alive and well in KGVI. For me, The Lord’s my Shepherd last Wednesday evening is a memory that will last forever. The power and feeling behind those words, which have supported many people over the years, was breath taking and the only word I could use to describe it was…WOW!

I’m often asked, “Which KGVI course was the best?” And that one is easy to answer, it’s the one that you were involved with. Each course brings with it a new bunch of Cadets and a fresh staff team. For the last few years I have been the only constant and whilst that might sound unexciting, it isn’t because I get to be part of the KGVI experience for the first time, with each new group that comes along. Each course will have its highs and lows, the tears and the laughter, but like the groups, has its own individuality, the spark that makes that one special, the uniqueness that doesn’t work in another course. Anyone who has completed KGVI will know exactly what I mean.


Tackling the ‘alpha scenario’!

Do I have a disappointment in KGVI? Yes, no one told me about it when I was the age to come along as a Cadet. I would have loved the experience. I was shy, probably painfully so, at that age and KGVI might just have been that confidence boost I needed. I reckon I probably still am shy, but the remedy for that comes from working with today’s Cadets over the past 16 years.

If there’s a highlight of that time, other than working with some amazing people, it was getting the KGVI experience levelled and credit rated on the SCQF. To have the learning recognised at Level 7, the equivalent of an Advanced Higher or and HNC, adds so much weight to what is an already amazing experience. Seeing the 13 credit points KGVI carries mean the difference from getting into university or missing out on a place, is quite humbling and with exam results arriving during the course itself, you get a sense of walking that road with the Cadet and being able to support them, whatever the outcome may be.

To all the Cadets from this year…good luck for the coming year, you are amazing and you’re going to make a huge difference back in your companies. For those who completed this year: we have the Graduation to look forward to; for those who finished New Entrants last week, the pleasure of doing it all over again! 🙂

You can find out more about the KGVI experience by visiting the website.  Alternatively, drop Alan an email alan.hunter@boys-brigade.org.uk

And….Check out this video made by one of this year’s participants!

Our BB Clydesiders!

It will come as little surprise that many BB volunteers are also making a difference during Glasgow 2014.  John Armour, Jim McCormack and John Paterson took time out of their busy schedules to comment about their experience about being Clydesiders! 

John is a BB leader with 268th Glasgow, located in Bishopbriggs.


John Armour, 268th Glasgow

John Armour, 268th Glasgow

Being a Clydesider has been one of the best and most exciting experiences of my life. To be part of something this big on my doorstep was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up!

My job has been in the athletes’ village, checking the food areas, toilets and bin stations. It isn’t the most glamorous of jobs, but we are up close and personal with many athletes and is all part of the bigger picture.

In my time in the village, I have met so many amazing people and always had a story to come home with.  It has been hard work but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.

To have been picked out of 40,000 was special enough and something I will probably never experience again. Volunteering is something I’m used to twice a week at BB but this is something else.

A once in a lifetime experience that I will always remember!




Jim has no current company attachment but originally the 7th Coatbridge.  Jim is now the National Expedition Co-ordinator for The Boys’ Brigade.

 As you can see I am not from Glasgow but I have close family connections in that my mother’s family, who came from

Jim McCormack, National Expedition Coordinator for The Boys' Brigade

Jim McCormack, National Expedition Coordinator for The Boys’ Brigade

Scotstoun. I was born in Coatbridge and have lived here all my life.

I initially volunteered for Athletics, hoping to be at Hampden. I was accepted and my area became “Field of Play” –  Little did I know that this area encompassed more than athletics!

Field of Play is the area within which the race is run – the area that spectators are not allowed to enter during competition.

I worked for two days’ training at the Diamond League Athletics at Hampden were I became a press runner and worked with the BBC Athletics commentators, which included Brendan Foster, Steve Cram, Jonathon Edwards and Colin Edwards.

After this I was allocated the two road marathons ( I was responsible for a pedestrian crossing at the Broomielaw just at the the footbridge over the Clyde)

Then I spent five days at Cathkin Braes, including the Medal race day.   My team (photo) was responsible for laying out the stakes and tapes along Sector Five which overlooked Castlemilk and Glasgow, from this stretch you could see seven of the Glasgow games venues!

I am stewarding on the Men & Womens’ Road Cycling time trial as well as the Men & Womens Road Cycling race which is on the last day of the games.

John is 19 and a leader with 3rd Kilsyth Company.


John Paterson, 3rd Kilsyth

John Paterson, 3rd Kilsyth

There wasn’t an option to pick what i wanted to volunteer in but I put my name down to as much as I could, as I really wanted to be a part of the biggest show in Scotland! I was picked for the Arrivals and Departures team.

I started volunteering as part of the Glasgow Central Station team before being moved to the Athletes Village which has been fantastic! In total, I will have volunteered from the 8th of July to the 6th of August, completing 25 shifts. Very tiring but totally worth it!

I saw the success of the Games-makers at London 2012 and I wanted the chance to have Clydesiders have the same attention in terms of the great compliments and work that they gathered and did. I volunteered, as I really wanted to be a part of the biggest show of sport in Scotland. Volunteering is a big part of my life within The Boys’ Brigade and I wanted to explore a new option within volunteering. It will also be a great addition to my CV, especially as I’m training to be a primary school teacher.

Simply, I just wanted to be part of the Games and feel the buzz and atmosphere in and around Glasgow, whilst doing my bit for the Games.

There have been quite a few highlights to choose from! From seeing Her Majesty and Prince Phillip, Wills, Kate and Harry or having Usain Bolt walk by me, but my highlight must be seeing all the Scottish athletes coming back from their events with massive smiles and medals around their necks!

The best bit of volunteering was the feeling that by doing your job you were contributing to the biggest sporting event to happen in Scotland and that it happened so well.

What I’ve got out of volunteering was an experience that will live for me forever. I have met some amazing fellow Clydesiders and people from all around the Commonwealth. I have benefited from my experience in ways, such as an increased confidence, particularly getting a sense that I’m showing people from across the Commonwealth an amazing experience in Glasgow. I have learned many different things from these people – From how to say hello in many different languages, to skills that I can take back to my company and my teacher training.


John, Jim and John are just some of the thousands of Clydesiders who are playing their part to make Glasgow 2014 the best Games ever.  Once the Games are over, the city still has its next big event to look forward to – Brigade Conference on September 6th!!

Festival of Remembrance – My experience

Fraser McDonald, BB young person from East Calder shares his reflections from one very special day in London.  He was one of four Scots to join a larger group of BB young people at this year’s Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance.

“ParticipatingThe Boys’ Brigade in the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance was a great experience and certainly one I will not forget. I flew down from Scotland on the Thursday evening, one of four boys representing the Brigade in Scotland. This, in itself, was a great honour for me. On Friday 8th November we all travelled into London together from the BB Headquarters in Hemel Hempstead where we were staying. We had a rehearsal on the Friday afternoon in the Royal Albert Hall in which we were allowed to get the feel of the event and practice our specific role in the Festival. The BB was providing the Guard of Honour for the Chelsea pensioners. We were briefed by the Garrison Sergeant Major as to what was expected of us. I had the task of leading our group out onto the arena to form the Guard – a particularly daunting task!

On the Saturday of the performance it was an early start – we had to pack in a dress rehearsal in the morning, a matinee in the afternoon and a performance in the evening. We met quite a few celebrities who were also performing in the festival. The queue outside Katie Melua’s dressing room for an autograph was particularly long!

During the performance we also got to participate in the Muster with the armed forces and civilian services. This was the most poignant part of the festival. The two minute silence in such a building as large as the Albert Hall was quite moving.

In the evening performance the Queen and other members of the Royal Family attended the performance. We were asked shortly before Her Majesty’s arrival to form a Guard of Honour alongside members of the various cadet organisations. This was unexpected and very exciting.  We lined the red carpet outside the Albert Hall and stood for twenty minutes in the cold until the Queen arrived. It was worth the wait and we were all proud that the BB had the extra honour of providing the Guard of Honour to welcome the Queen to the festival.


Four Scottish young people at 2013 RBL FoR

Four Scottish young people at 2013 RBL FoR

Overall, partaking in the Festival of Remembrance was a fantastic experience, and quite probably, one that will not be replicated. It was nerve-racking to march out into the arena of the Albert Hall which was filled with thousands of people let alone the millions watching at home. However, all of the nerves were overridden by the excitement of being part of the Festival. Moreover the chance to see the work that goes in to the production of such an event was fascinating. It was a great privilege to represent the BB and to witness the Festival of Remembrance.

Our top award – 100 years on

BB Training & Development Officer, Alan Hunter, reflects on 100


years of the highest achievement and how it benefits today’s young people and the wider community.


In 1913 the first crossword puzzle was published in a New York newspaper, Charlie Chaplain began his film career, and Brigade Council in Glasgow suggested that a King’s Badge be introduced as the highest award in The Boys’ Brigade. 100 years later, crosswords are still a growth industry in many publications, Charlie Chaplain is still recognised as a pioneer in the world of film, and the King’s Badge….

In 100 years the award may have had two different names, been awarded by four different monarchs and had five different designs, but the ethos remains the same. The original regulations called for the development of skills, which would help the young man develop as a person and that is still the case today, however the Queen’s

queens badge colourBadge of today helps develop skills for learning, life and work and the health and wellbeing of the young person. These fit neatly into some of the Scottish Government’s priorities for young people in the first part of the 21st century. The current Scottish curriculum, Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), recognises that not all education of young people will be covered at school, and often the informal learning achieved in The Boys’ Brigade and similar youthwork organisations, will provide the young person with the soft skills, valued by employers, in areas of teamwork, communication, leadership and relationship building.

CfE’s purpose is to enable children and young people to develop into being Successful Learners, Confident Individuals, Effective Contributors and Responsible Citizens. Although CfE was only introduced in 2010, the Queen’s Badge has helped thousands of young people to be each of these four, over the last 100 years of its existence. With over 500 Queen’s Badges awarded last session, that amounts to well in excess of 30,000 hours of volunteering by young people, whether it be within their own Company or in the wider community, making a difference to the lives of others. That assumes that every award holder only completed the minimum amount of time, although many will do far in excess of that.

The Queen’s Badge features in the publication Amazing Things, which has been developed to highlight the contribution made by awards to young people’s achievement. Amazing Things helps youth work organisations see ways of accrediting young people’s volunteering, achievement and self-development; schools can see how activity in the community complements in-school learning; colleges and universities can offer opportunities for students to develop skills and competence alongside their studies; and employers can better understand the way in which young people’s community activities build up their soft skills and make them more effective employees. To view a copy of Amazing Things follow the link: http://scotland.boys-brigade.org.uk/amazingthings.pdf

QB course

Does your Company offer the Queen’s Badge? As you can see, the award is much more to the young person than a badge to wear in uniform or a certificate to hang on a wall.  Ultimately it can open doors into the world of employment. And like the crossword, I’m sure it will be around for a long time to come…another design, name or monarch perhaps, but continuing to ‘make a difference’ for young people, our communities and our businesses…what better investment is there?

For find out more about ‘The Queen’s Badge’, please visit our website or alternatively, contact Alan Hunter directly (alan.hunter@boys-brigade.org.uk).

My Queen’s Badge experience…

The Queen’s Badge is the highest award that may be gained by a member of The Boys’ Brigade and this year celebrates the centenary of its predecessor the King’s Badge, first awarded in 1913.Image

The award aims to challenge and equip the individual, provide new opportunities and expand horizons while remaining accessible to young people of all abilities. The Queen’s Badge offers the chance to engage with the local community, take on responsibility, set personal goals, build self-confidence and experience a sense of achievement.

Ross Baxter from 3rd Inverness shares his Queen’s Badge experiences…

“I’ve been in The BB for 13 years and currently a student at Milbrun Academy studying highers and advanced highers

I honestly enjoyed all the things that I participated in order to achieve the award. I thoroughly enjoyed developing as a leader through coaching and ‘Discover Presentations’. I have also loved learning the guitar as I have always wanted to learn an instrument.

Working toImagewards the award allowed me to develop my presentational skills and also my leadership ability, especially when leading a talk with younger boys.

The area of voluntary service that I supported was at Clachnacuddin FC Youth development which was held at both Miton of Leys primary school astro pitch and Dalneigh Football pitches.  In total,  I spent 38 hours volunteering with them during my Queen’s Badge work.

The lasting memory I’ll take from my Queen’s Badge will be Parents’ Night (the last night) as it was the most emotional.  I have enjoyed (The BB) so much –  I’m not ready to leave!”

Month in the Life of…. Bill Stevenson, Director for Scotland

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 unDSCF1818der 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.