#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!!

BB Mums – Part 3

In the third and final part of our feature on some of the many of ‘BB Mums’, we hear what 2nd Dumfries’ captain, Samantha Thomson, thinks about being a mum and BB leader.

Samantha Thomson, Captain, 2nd Dumfries

Samantha Thomson, Captain, 2nd Dumfries

I have two boys who are surprisingly members of the BB. Rowen is 18 In May, he’s in sixth year at school, and is waiting to hear about college placement. He got his Queen’s Badge last year and will complete KGVI this year. He is laid back, has a wicked sense of humour and loves being with his family and friends. Rory is 15 later this year and undertaking his Presidents badge at the moment.  He loves playing rugby and is very sociable. Rory has many leadership qualities and is very quick. The boys are very different, but have many similar traits, I have so much to be proud of, well blessed with my children.


The best thing about being a Mum is knowing that you unconditionally love someone. It’s also the scariest! I love the fact that the boys will have so many fantastic opportunities, and so much potential for life.
Apart from the realisation that washable pen isn’t really that washable, I wouldn’t change anything as I like as well as love my boys and everything that happens, impacts on how we are.

I am still learning from my mum, she’s my heroine. I hope that I inherited her attitude to people, to treat others as we would like our folks to be treated. To treat everyone fairly, and to stand up for what I believe in. I also learned how to put my faith into service. She’s awesome. I hope I have passed this on to my boys.

I think that it’s a hard job regardless of when you do it, there are no instructions with babies or children. However I also think that there are many pressures on our boys and young men, and that is very difficult for Mums to deal with.


So, how did your involvement with The Boys’ Brigade come about?

Rowen was asked if he would like to go to Anchors, when he turned six, I went with him his first night and was reminded of the great fun I had as a Brownie and a Guide, they still played Duck, Duck, Goose… When he was promoted to Juniors I offered to help out the odd time, 10 years on I’m Company Captain!

There’s so much to say about what I gain from BB. The main thing is the fun and fellowship we share – the lads are sick of me talking about our Friday BB family, but I feel that’s the glue that keeps us going. I take huge pleasure from the boys /young men attaining their awards. I really like when they share the table at canteen and you hear the chatter and excitement of their interactions. Often this is with folks who they wouldn’t normally socialise with. I enjoy the fact that we make this happen. The fellowship and friendship is also excellent with the leaders who are just fab!

Being a Mum is invaluable asset for a BB leader. The problem solving and multi-tasking ethos transfers well to the BB setting. As you know your own children, you can empathise with parents’ fears and expectations about our organisation. Sometimes it’s the experience of knowing when someone needs a listening ear, or vigorous encouragement (!) However I suspect that I also feel that I have an almost maternal responsibility for the Company, which lets me be involved wholeheartedly, and yes I take it to heart.  I have seen the hugely positive impact on many, who after going through the Company as Boys, stay on as young leaders.

Definitely a proud Mammy moment!

You can follow 2nd Dumfries BB on twitter and also find out more on their website.

BB Mums – Part 2

In the second part of our feature on ‘BB Mums’, we hear the thoughts of Heather Sturgeon, from 7th East Kilbride, on what being a mum to her two sons means to her.

Heather Sturgeon, mum of two and leader with 7th East Kilbride

Heather Sturgeon, mum of two and leader with 7th East Kilbride

I am mum to Daniel,  6, and Andrew, 11, as well as being Officer in Charge of 7th EK Anchor Boys.

My kids are quite different- Andrew is quite thoughtful and sensitive -though not quiet!- and prefers individual sports, science and computing. Daniel is much more outgoing and forthright, and us usually described as a “character”!, and  is into football, climbing and music . They both have great sense of humour and get on very well together.

I think there are so many things which make being a mum great, but probably most of all it’s just the complete unconditional love and trust your child has in you.  This is amazing.  No one tells you when you have a baby just how strong the feelings will be!

Exploring things together and seeing the world through your child’s eyes and getting to be a kid again yourself all over again, exploring puddles and ponds and the wonder of tadpoles is great! (I’m sure I’m not the only mum that acts five in Disneyland!). Then there is the fun at seeing bits of yourself or your family in them.  Plus the pride and joy you get as they achieve something- first steps, first words, first goal, first Munro!

Although it’s a bit heart wrenching,  but it’s good to see them grow up and develop into their own characters, knowing you have had a hand in developing the future through them.

Your kids can teach you and help you remember so many lessons you forget as an adult, like forget and don’t hold grudges, sharing is fun, everyone deserves second chances and questioning and challenging new ideas isn’t a bad or scary thing.

For me though, it’s about just capturing the small moments, like watching a family movie together or sharing stories of your day round the dinner table- making memories for you and your kids for the future.

Each age and stage of motherhood brings its own challenges and when you are in one you sometimes can’t wait to get to the next and can end up wishing their lives away! I think it’s good just to take things a day at a time and cherish what you have.

What does being a mum and BB leader mean to you?

My BB journey began when I was “encouraged” to play the piano for Anchors as my auntie was officer in charge! My dad was Captain so we were brought up in the Company- even having family holidays at camp! And I met my husband at KGVI!

There are lots of good thing about being a mum and BB leader, like having links to local schools and other groups, as well as developing relationships with parents who otherwise don’t have much to do with church.  The dual role also offers another link to what hobbies and activities your own children enjoy.

Although it can be a bit hectic at times balancing everything, I think being a mum has worked to the benefit of the company.  Through my own boys, I have recruited others from football, tae kwon do, swimming and climbing lessons, as well as several from chats with other mums in the school playground!

I am lucky to have a great group of boys, a good group of supportive parents, enthusiastic and supportive fellow officers and great links with our Company section.  We run a varied programme- last week we had a “World Book Day” party when we celebrated by dressing up as our favourite book characters! Everyone, including officers!


You can find out more about the 7th East Kilbride BB Company at their own website.

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!”