St Mark’s, Ballymacash, celebrates major Scouting anniversary

Wednesday September 19th 2012

An important Scouting anniversary will be marked over the weekend of September 21–23 at the Church of Ireland Parish of St Mark’s, Ballymacash.

It is 85 years since the Scout patrols meeting at Ballymacash were first registered as a separate Scout Troop.

On Friday September 21 this milestone will be celebrated with a tree–planting ceremony at 7.30pm in the grounds of St Mark’s. The trees will be planted by Mrs Iris Currie in memory of her late husband Ernest who served for many years as Chairman of the Scout Group Council, and by Mrs Audrey Gifford, a former Scout Group Leader, in memory of her late husband Bob Gifford who was leader of the Cub Pack from 1970 to 1983.

On Sunday September 23, following the 11.00am Youth Parade Service, the congregation will be invited to view a historical exhibition in the Parochial Hall. This traces the history of Scouting in Ballymacash and a comprehensive collection of artefacts, photographs, scrapbooks and reports will be on display. The exhibition will be open for viewing from noon to 4.00pm.

Scouting began in Ballymacash in 1911 when the Rev TJ Armstrong, Curate of Derriaghy, introduced a Scout Troop to the Parish with patrols meeting at the Schoolhouses in Derriaghy and Ballymacash. The first Scoutmaster was Lieutenant Edward (Eddie) Brown who was killed in action during the Great War of 1914–1918.

Several generations of the Brown family worshipped at St Mark’s and Eddie’s father Robert and his brother Billy both served as Treasurer of the Church. Billy Brown, as well as being an early leader of the Scouts at Ballymacash, went on to become Secretary of the County Antrim Scout Council and was awarded the Silver Wolf.

The Scout patrols which met at Ballymacash were registered in 1927 as the 22nd Belfast Troop and the Church still holds the Inter Patrol Shield used in the late 1920s. The first leader of the 22nd Belfast was Billy Brown with Jeff Fenning as his assistant. The new scarf was red with a blue border.

Jeff Fenning, a member of St Mark’s Church, took over from Billy Brown in 1930 and was still in the position of leader in 1934 when the 22nd Belfast was re–registered as 1st Ballymacash with the formation of Lisburn Scout District.

He served as District Commissioner, County Commissioner for Antrim, City Commissioner for Belfast and in 1967 reached the pinnacle of his Scouting career as Deputy Chief Commissioner for Northern Ireland.

The Historical Exhibition provides a wealth of information about the huge contribution made over the past century by the members of the Scouts at Ballymacash. There are comprehensive reports of Jamborees attended by the Scout Group through the years in places as far flung as Japan, Australia, Chile, the United States of America and various locations on the European mainland.

The leaders of 1st Ballymacash Scout Group extend a warm welcome to everyone wishing to attend the Special Service on Sunday September 23 at 11.00am and view the Historical Exhibition.

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