Prince Edward paid a visit to the headquarters of the Boys’ Brigade (BBNI) on Wednesday, as part of his two-day visit to Northern Ireland.
The BBNI purchased the former Newport Primary School in Hillsborough, earlier this year and have moved their operations from their former premises in Larne. Meeting with a number of key volunteers involved with the organisation, the Earl was greeted by Jonathan Gracey, director of BBNI, before viewing plans for the Brigade’s major refurbishment project of premises in Co. Down. Edward met with a small number of invited guests who have supported the acquisition of the new building and helped with the relocation efforts.
The Boys’ Brigade works with young people across the globe and aims to provide a programme of activities and resources to help volunteer youth leaders work in a relevant and creative way. In the UK and the Republic of Ireland, it works with more than 60,000 children and young people each week.
The organisation has played a significant role in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award over the past 50 years, from its introduction to promoting and overseeing the scheme and, in the past five years, has helped over 2,000 members to achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.
The Earl had the opportunity to meet with some of the Duke of Edinburgh participants, along with viewing a number of camping and cooking demonstrations. Prior to his departure, Prince Edward signed the visitor book and planted a tree to commemorate his visit. Mr Gracey was also presented with the Boys’ Brigade Northern Ireland Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Operating Licence.
The Boys’ Brigade was founded in Glasgow on the 4th October 1883 by William Alexander Smith. The Scout Movement, which was formed itself in 1908, was developed from the Boys’ Brigade and the organisation celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2008.
The Object of the Brigade is defined as “The Promotion of habits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-Respect and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness,” although many of the children and young people who are involved with the Brigade have no other connection with the church or church organisations.
More information on the Earl’s visit to Northern Ireland can be found here, by Royal Central’s Deputy Editor, Chloe Howard.
Image Credit: Northern Ireland Office / Simon Graham / Harrisons