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STARTING POINT

In 1963, the Rev. R.E. (or Bob) McLeod, the minister of St. Stephens Presbyterian church Tamworth at that time heard about a youth organization for Boys known as The Life Boys (now known as Juniors and previously No. 1 Section) and The Boys Brigade (now known as Seniors and previously Section 2) operating in other churches in the immediate area. This gave him the desired to bring The Boys' Brigade to Tamworth as well by starting a Company attached to his church. He began corresponding with Rev. Bruce Logan (the Minister of St. Paul's Presbyterian Church Armidale), Mr Keith McLeod (The Captain of the Armidale Presbyterian Boys' Brigade Company and Life Boys' Training Officer for the Northern Sector of the State) and Mr. Rod Sutherland (The NSW State Training Officer). This continued for a number of years eventuating in Rev. McLeod gaining enough information, knowledge and assistance from his church to attempt to start a company.

On the 19th July 1968 an information and display evening was held at St. Stephen's with the purpose of developing interest for a company within the church among church members, school students taught in scripture classes and the general public. The 83rd NSW Armidale Company travelled down to Tamworth with a large contingent of Boys and Officers to give a display of what Boys' Brigade was all about. This combined with a few short films and slides of life in the Boys' Brigade made the night a huge success and later that year the a new company met for the first time under the leadership of Rev. McLeod, Mr Richard Bowd (who was previously connected with a company in Guyra) and Mr Peter Dark. At this stage the company consisted only of high school age Boys or Section 2 (now seniors).

 

REGISTRATION

By 1970 the group was operating very successfully and had met the minimum requirements for official registration of a Company. That was two trained officers and 15 Boys. A decision was made to submit an application for registration. On the 18th September 1970 with 20 Boys' and 4 Officers the company was officially registered as the 189th NSW West Tamworth Boys' Brigade Company. The leadership team was Rev. McLeod (Captain and Chaplain), Mr Richard Bowd, Mr Peter Dark and Mr Graham Swab.

By 1971 Mr George Brook, Mr Graham Emanuel and Mr John Freshwater had also joined the company. Unfortunately Peter Dark and Graham Swab had to resign due to work commitments away from Tamworth.

In 1972 Rev. McLeod accepted a call away from St. Stephen's and Richard Bowd took over the role of Captain. By the end of that year though he also had to resign due to family and work commitments. In February of 1973 St. Stephens Session appointed George Brook as acting Captain while he completed his training and then as full Captain of the company. Richard Bowd continued to work within and support the Company but on a smaller basis. Mr Richard Betts had joined the company by now as a Warrant Officer.

George Brook continues to hold the position of Captain today.

 

PROBLEMS

By 1974 the Company had started to develop some problems due to a lack of officers and Boys and saw it's temporary abandonment. This was done reluctantly as those who were left were concerned that some sort of activity still needed to be provided for the youth within the church. Without the dedicated work and commitment of George Brook and Richard Betts this is were the story would have ended.

 

NEW BEGINNINGS

Approval was immediately sort of the session (church leaders) of the church to start a Section One group (known today as Juniors) and slowly build back up to the re-commencement of a Section Two group. Both officers started attending the Tamworth Baptist Company to learn how to run a Section One group. They also attended a Section One training course. Session gave their approval and this new Section One group started at the beginning of 1975. By 11th March the Company was re-registered. The leadership at this time was George Brook (Captain) Rev. Kelvin Auld (St. Stephens minister at the time as Chaplain), Richard Betts, Mrs Zella Betts and Mrs Noelle Brook. Jamie Missen a member of the old Section Two was also a regular helper. Later that year as the group continued to grow Mr Bob Ironmonger joined the ranks as an officer within the company.

 

MILESTONES

The company was blessed later that year on the 19th October to have Mr E.N, (or Noel) Park present at a church Parade. He presented the company with an Australian flag as a gift from the Australian government. This flag, along with the company colours, which had been purchased with money raised during the then known Boys' Brigade Week in July, was dedicated as part of the service. The same colours from this service are retained today. Mr Park continued to be a loyal supporter of the Boys' Brigade until his death in 1994.

1976 saw the re-commencement of a Section Two group. The session also appointed Mr Doug Steinbeck as a Session Elder to act as a representative or liason person between Boy's Brigade and Session. Mr Steinbeck continued to hold this position for the next 31 years.

1981 saw another milestone reached in the life of our company. On the 29th May Anchor Boys (now known as Anchors) commenced as a third section for our company for Boys aged 5 to 7 years. The company now catered for all Boys from the age of 5 to 18.

In 1987 we welcomed to our ranks the new minister to St. Stephens Rev. Stuart Andrews. Rev. Andrews joined Rev. Robert McKean (the then Minister of the Manilla Presbyterian church) as a Chaplain to the company. In 1988 when Rev. McKean accepted a call away from Manilla Rev. Andrews continued in this role. Rev. Andrews continued in this role until 2007 when the company moved its affiliation from St Stephen's Presbyterian Church to Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church. In 2008 we happily welcomed Rev. David Hassan as our new Chaplain after his induction as Minister of TCPC.

 GIRLS' BRIGADE BEGINS

In 2008 a need had been identified for a group for girls. That had been many girls looking on longingly at the fun that the Boys had been having for many years. Mrs Rebecca Bailey, previously a Anchor Boys leader, made enquiries of what would be needed to start a Girls' Brigade. Mrs Jenny Field, a parent of some of the Boys in Boys Brigade, mother of daughters and wife of a Boys Brigade leaders felt the calling to offer her time to train with Mrs Bailey as a leader.

With 2 training leaders, a lot of support from the Boys' Brigade leaders, the church and parents the Girls' Brigade final met for the first time on 23rd April 2010. It had been decided that a model of meeting at the same time as the Boys' Brigade on Friday evenings in a separate part of St Stephen's Presbyterian Church would be trialled. This would enable families with both Boys and Girls to drop off and pick up their children at the same time and place.

This proved to be a very welcomed and successful idea and soon both the Boys' and Girls' Brigade where growing and supporting each other. A joint parade of all groups before breaking into separate groups was also trialled which was also quickly welcomed as it promoted a family atmosphere and improved communication.

 

TODAY

In late 2013 Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church made the decision to step away from the St Stephen's Presbyterian church building to Tamworth South Public School Hall. The Brigades made the decision to move with them to this location. The Boys' Brigade had been meeting at St Stephen's for nearly 45 years so this was a big change! At the beginning of 2014 both Boys' and Girls' Brigade began meeting on Thursday afternoons at 5.30pm at Tamworth South Public School Hall.

Over the years the Boys' Brigade Company has seen 3 Captains, 7 Chaplains, more than 60 leaders and helpers and 100's of Boys. The Company members have celebrated the highs and supported each other through the lows across the years. It has seen 36 Boys achieve their Queen's Badge, had members attend every PA Camp since 1978 in Perth (they continue to be held every 3 years), provided a guard of honour at the weddings of several officers and supported and advanced the Boys' Brigade movement throughout the community at many functions, celebrations and events.

The Girls' Brigade has had only 1 Captain and 3 leaders but has already had an impact in the lives of many girls.

Both Companies continue to meet weekly during school terms on Thursday afternoons at Tamworth South Public School Hall, Woodward Avenue Tamworth under the leadership team of Mr George Brook and Mrs Rebecca Bailey. Both are affiliated with their respective state and national bodies and are ministries of Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church.

 

 

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