There’s something for all ages:
Anchor Boys from 5-7 year olds. Current membership is 23
Junior Section from 8-11 year olds. Current membership is 51
Company andSenior sections from 11-21 year olds. Current membership is over 40
No Group or gathering of people would be the same without full knowledge of their history. Below is the full text of my speech, at the 30th. Birthday celebration in September 2002. Much of it was not said, but it will give insight into our past and why we are here now !
"We run youth groups so that youngsters can have fun, make friendships and learn about life. We always try to help kids understand God in such a way that it is relevant to them, and very much in their own way. That’s why we do this work".
In a sentence that sums up why John Boon has been a Boys Brigade Leader for 36 years, and 30 years ago why he started the 2nd Witham Company. From their first meeting with four boys in 1972 the Company has grown to 113 boys with nine Officers and 40 volunteer leaders. Their attendance hasn’t been below 90 since 1983 and in 1990 it topped 120. Most join after being told about Boys Brigade by their friends. And why not, for it’s activities reads like a wish list for youngsters. The difference is, that John Boon and his leaders can make those wishes come true, if that’s what the boys and girls in the GirlsBrigade want.
So what do all these youngsters do?
Depending on their age groups, working for badges, working towards the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, Queen’s Badge, hiking and expeditions, sometimes in the UK, or overseas including the USA and Canada, outdoor pursuits, summer camps, holidays, outings, sporting and adventure activities. 2nd Witham Company also has its own 18 acres of woodland and camping ground in North Essex, where youngsters can learn about environmental issues and bird watching. It features a specially built bird watching hide equipped for the disabled. John doesn’t proscribe activities for the many of the sections- they come up with the suggestions themselves. “It’s important that we provide the type of activities the youngsters themselves want,” he explains. “We need to take into account the changing needs of young people”.
“For some Seniors, we have provided an up to date graphics programme for them to use in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and Queen’s Badge, put together by one of our own 20 year olds who is a graphic designer,” says John Boon. He believes in making use of information technology and helping to equip youngsters for the adult world.
In 2000 ten young men from the 2nd Company gained the Boys Brigade President’s Badge and nine of them have been working towards the Queen’s badge over the last year. One gained his Queen’s Badge in September 2000, another this April with two more on course to complete this year. Another skill they learn, is teaching others, “All our leaders are home grown,” says John, getting youngsters to work with younger age groups helps them develop leadership and relationship skills, both important in all walks of life.” Keith Meredith, 14 years then, now an adult and an Officer, was told about Boys Brigade by his family. Already he is starting to help out with the younger age groups. “I really enjoy it, it’s, fun, and has the sort of values that appeal to me,” he says. James Lawrence, 15 years then, now an adult and Officer, started Boys Brigade when he was eight years old, and also helps out with youngsters. Another 15 year old then, now an adult and an Officer / Trustee, is Matthew West, again he helps out with younger boys and earlier in the year together with James, worked in the Boys Brigade office, carrying out mailings, helping with the general office work to gain work experience.
It’s not just in the town that the word has spread about what’s going on at 2nd Witham. Youngsters come from Braintree, Terling, and Nounsley -attracting youngsters from a wide radius.
The national trend for Boys Brigade Companies is an average of 20 or so boys of all ages. “We buck that trend,” says John Boon,” and also the national trend by having 60% of our membership in the teenage range.”
Witham Town Council has agreed in the early 2000’s, to a grant of £650 for 2nd Witham Company. This went towards funding the cost of the Company’s then full-time leader, 20 year old Adam Woodhouse. 2nd Witham raised 25% of the £1300 they need for Adam through their own fund raising, an auction, fair and will also seek other funding for the balance.
On Saturday 21st September the Company celebrated their 30th birthday with a day of activities at Rickstones School. A 30th birthday limited edition badge was created to mark the event.
Now retired after over 30 years as a Social Worker, involved in all areas of society and its problems, John works as a full time unpaid Boys Brigade Officer.
"We feel that part of our work in the community is to provide alternatives to crime or boredom, albeit with a small part of the population of Witham and the surrounding area"
he explains. He knows his group is at the cutting edge of working with young people in Witham and approaches it with that in mind. It’s not enough he feels to simply meet once a week for games and badge work. Life skills course, leadership training, writing references for youngsters to undertake worthwhile job experience, imparting guide lines on how to live a fuller, Christian life. He and his team meet with their youngsters up to four or five times a week, plus weekend and camps.
It’s not just their time they give, It’s their talent, enthusiasm and commitment. On 31st. January 2008 the Trustees held a Thank you and New Year reception at Guithavon Valley Church halls, to say thank you to all staff and supporters. The five year plan was also launched. 110 people attended this important event.
Changing from 2nd Witham Boys Brigade to Witham BB
Since 1972 Witham BB has been helping children and young people have FUN, build FRIENDSHIPS, understand FAITH and explore FULLNESS of life. We believe in young people and put them first in all we do, helping them to reach their full potential as they journey from childhood into adulthood.
From small beginnings the group has grown to its current 233 members, 24 officer staff and 30 volunteers including seven trustees.
In 2008 2nd Witham Boys Brigade became a Boys’ Brigade and Girls association and in 2015 took on a schools department, Christian Youth Outreach Witham (CYO Witham).
We want Witham to be:
A place where children and young people realise they have talents.
A safe place where they have a chance to realise and enhance these talents.
An adventurous place where they recognise and are given opportunities to use those talents in service to their community and beyond.
Ages and Stages
We believe in children and young people, putting them first in everything we do.
We also believe in the holistic development that sees the child in the round, as a whole person – physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, morally, culturally and spiritually.
That is why we have developed four age and stage appropriate programmes for children and young people.
Anchors for 5 to 8 year olds
Juniors for 8 to 11 year olds
Company for 11 to 15 year olds
Seniors for 15+ year olds
Our 2020 Vision
Witham BB, through its programme of youth and children’s work, aims to create confident, capable, articulate and experienced young people who are aware of local challenges and opportunities with the knowledge, contacts, health and base skills to irrepressibly and lead the future of both their own lives and the life or Witham.