Monday, 7 May 2018

District Fellowship Weekend 2018 - by Ian Brailey (avon rep)

Sue had booked the Friday off work, so we were able to have a lie-in and a leisurely breakfast before packing and then set off around midday. After a spot of lunch, we arrived at the Passage House Hotel around 2.30. It was one of the hottest days in April so we went next door to the Passage House Inn and sat in their garden on the riverbank with a view of the roadway into the hotel to await the arrival of our fellow weekenders. It was too hot to sit in the sun and a little chilly in the shade so frequent swapping of seats resulted!
We were joined a little later by Tom and then Peter followed by Rosie. Andrew and Jacqui arrived some time before Gordon and Di and Maureen because Gordon had been working. We had booked a late evening meal so we were able to have a short chat before we went to eat. The meal finished too late for us to gather for games, but Jacqui and Andrew dragged me into a game of Rummikub, which I had never played before and therefore did not win.
Saturday morning we came down to breakfast to find Tom and Peter already well into the full English breakfast which became more extended as the party gathered. After breakfast we all went our separate ways. Sue and I went into Newton Abbot where we dodged a light shower (well it was nearly summer!) and raided the charity shops. I was able to find a couple of books to fill spaces in trilogies I intend reading. After lunch we went back to the hotel, where Sue sat in the conservatory and read, while I went for a walk along the estuary and across Hackney Marsh to the rear of the racecourse. Afterwards we had a swim in the hotel indoor pool which we had to ourselves. We went back to our room so I could get the football results and there was a thunderstorm outside which one or two of our party were caught out in.
After the evening meal we gathered in a meeting room for a quiz which Rosie had brought. Di, Gordon and Maureen formed one team, Tom, Andy and Jacqui another, and Sue and I teamed up with Peter, who provided most of our answers so we finished top.
Sunday Morning was another fine, hot, sunny day. After breakfast we went to the Methodist/United Reform church in Newton Abbot. They made us very welcome and after joining them for tea and coffee we went back to the Passage House Hotel for a carvery lunch. Some had other places to be so we did not linger long before saying our goodbyes and making our ways home.
It was a very enjoyable weekend. To be able to meet together socially rather than at meetings where the business has priority, or at competitions where we are always so busy, is so pleasant. The ability to do as you please made this a very restful weekend for me, and I don’t get many of those. I recommend this time together to any leader or partner in the District.



The pictures show a view of the estuary from the decking at the hotel, and us waiting for dessert at the Inn at Sunday lunch.


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Gold Adventure in the South of France

Six members of the 1st Tewkesbury Company recently travelled to the South of France to complete their Gold DofE canoeing expedition on the river Ardeche, accompanied by staff.

The Company took their minibus and canoe trailer on this 7-day adventure, leaving Tewkesbury on the Saturday morning to travel to Folkestone for the train journey through the Eurotunnel and a campsite an hour outside of Calais. The long drive to some accommodation near the start point in Lanas, took all next day. An early start at 7am meant we arrived at the river in time to complete the pre expedition preparations in plenty of time and enjoy the early morning sunshine.

Water levels were a bit low in some parts so this initially delayed progress, but the team soon picked up the pace and found a suitable wild campsite for the first night of the 4 day expedition. The staff based themselves around 5 miles outside of Vallance, camping 600ft up from the Ardeche Gorge.

The scenery along the gorge was stunning and we were blessed with glorious sunshine for the 4 days of the expedition, the staff even managed to 'pinch' the lads canoes while they had lunch at the spectacular Pont-d'Arc and canoe under the rocky arch. The large number of weirs on the river provided some challenging, but also comedic moments, as the canoes launched themselves down the separate concrete channels and dropped off the end to land safely back in the river ....most of the time!

The lads met the challenge of unfamiliar territory, 3 nights of wild camping and keeping their kit dry with great teamwork and supporting each other all the way. An early start on the final day meant the 8 hours were due to be completed by 4pm, and as the assessor and staff team waited at Codelet on the river Rhone, a pair of binoculars confirmed they were in the distance and due to arrive as planned.

The elation of completing this new adventure soon gave way to finding the most comfortable way to sleep in a minibus seat for the overnight journey back to Calais. We finally arrived at the Eurotunnel terminal at just after 5am, ready for the debrief and the train back to England. Breakfast on the M25 was eagerly consumed and then a change of driver for the rest of the trip back to Tewkesbury.

This was something totally new for us as a Company, but the challenge (and stress at times) was more than worth it to see some fine young men complete their biggest adventure in their time in BB. Proud staff and parents are now waiting for the presentation of the trip and then the completion of their award and a visit to the palace to collect the Gold awards.

Andrew Baldwin
Captain









Friday, 13 October 2017

west of england trip to puxton park to celebrate the junior section 100th birthday

A small write up from one of our vice presidents and England rep . Mr Andrew Baldwin



Boys’ Brigade Party at Puxton

Nearly 200 members from the West of England District of the Boys’ Brigade enjoyed a celebration event at Puxton Park on Saturday to mark 100 years of the Junior Section. Companies from Devon, Plymouth, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Bristol took part in a special cake cutting ceremony and enjoyed a fun packed day on the attractions.

The District celebrated its own centenary in 2014 but this was a special event for the 8 – 11-year-old age group, marking 100 years since the ‘Boy Reserves’ as it was originally known, was started in 1917. Until that time boys could only join on their 12th birthday, but increasing demand led to the forming of the new section, 34 years after the founding of the Boys’ Brigade movement in 1883.

Organisers Emma Dare & Jacquie Boyer commented that ‘it was a fantastic day and great to see so many of our members with smiles on their faces as they enjoyed everything from water zorbing to the falconry displays’.

The Boys’ Brigade caters for members from the age of 5 to 18 and offers a wide range of adventurous, sporting and challenging activities with BB Companies spread around every county in the West of England. Camp is often the highlight of the year for many but other popular activities include marching bands, the DofE award and trips out to paintballing, bowling and trampoline parks.

Further information on joining can be found at www.boys-brigade.org.uk




Andrew Baldwin
The Boys’ Brigade West of England & Channel Island District










Sunday, 14 May 2017

Get active - somerset

The Get Active Day was organised through Boys’ Brigade HQ.  Somerset Battalion were fortunate enough to be offered the second day to be run in England.  The vast majority of Somerset companies were able to attend along with a company from Torquay.  The event was held at Yeovil College Sports Centre.  At least fifty young people attended.  There were 17 challenges some using your mind, some physical and all involving team work.  Some really required concentration whilst others, especially those involving water made it hard to focus.  There was much fun and laughter and because companies worked in mixed teams many new friendships were made.  The team from HQ and our local leaders all worked hard and the results were plain to see from the enthusiasm of the boys.  It was a brilliant day and one intend to do again.  The behaviour and comradeship of the boys was a real credit to the Boys’ Brigade.