Church Lads' and Church Girls' Brigade
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|Motto||"Fight The Good Fight"|
|Headquarters||Wath-upon-Dearne, Rotherham, United Kingdom|
|Key people||Her Majesty The Queen (Patron), The Archbishop of Canterbury (President)|
The Church Lads' and Church Girls' Brigade is a Church of England youth organisation with branches in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Bermuda, Kenya, South Africa, Newfoundland and St Helena. Its origins lie in the formation in 1891 of the Church Lads' Brigade with its sister organisation, the Church Nursing and Ambulance Brigade for Young Women and Girls, later the Church Girls' Brigade, founded in 1901. The two respective founders were Walter M Gee and Rev Thomas Milner. The two Brigades amalgamated in 1978 to form the Church Lads' and Church Girls' Brigade.
The Church Lads' Brigade was one of the founding members of The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS), and the Church Lads' and Church Girls' Brigade remains a member by virtue of its work towards the personal and social development of young people.
The Brigade's Patron Saint is Martin of Tours. A banner depicting St Martin, which was presented by the Brigade in 1921 to honour those members who died in the First World War, is kept at Westminster Abbey.
The Brigade is structured by location. Each location (normally a diocese, for example: Manchester) has a regiment or a diocesan battalion, this then divides into battalions (South, Central, North East - Durham, Oldham, Rochdale, Bolton, Tameside) and then into companies. Generally, each regiment has more than one battalion and each battalion has more than one company.
The Brigade is split into groups. These correspond with the age of the members:
- The Martins (named after the patron saint): 4 to 7 years of age.
- The Y Team (previously YB & YGC: Young Boys and Young Girls Corp): 7 to 10 years of age.
- JTC (Jump To The Challenge (previously Junior Training Corps)): 10 to 13 years of age.
- Seniors: 13 to 21 years of age.
- Staff: 18 years onwards.
Members can become leaders and staff and continue to contribute to the CLCGB for long periods of time.
The following are the section designations for the CLB in Newfoundland:
- LTC (Little Training Corps. Previously LBC: Little Boys Corps): 5 and 6 years of age.
- YTC (Young Training Corps. Previously YBC: Young Boys Corps): 7 to 9 years of age.
- JTC (Junior Training Corps): 10 to 12 years of age.
- SC (Senior Corps.): 13 to 18 years of age.
- Staff: 19 years onwards. Can include commissioned officers or non-uniformed instructors.
Members will arrive and be instructed, subs will be taken before moving onto badgework. This can last between 10 minutes and an hour depending on the age of the children (see Sections). The members are then instructed to fall in and do drill before moving onto games. Lastly, the Brigade Prayer is said before any notices are given out. Sweets are available at the end of the night.
Badgework can take place in several different forms. A main part of the Brigade is the Christian teachings that take place, this can be anything from a Christmas word search (used within the Martins) to complex teachings and encouragement of interpretation of passages from the bible.
Badgework is not just Christian teachings, many companies have been known to do The Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Other activities include cooking, arts & crafts, host and hostess, fitness, astronomy, first aid. Activities carried out are not subject to a certain 'curriculum'. The Brigade publishes an official badge scheme and supply official badges to go on members' uniforms. Some companies choose to add their own certificates when they cannot find a suitable badge for an activity they would like to undertake.
This is not dissimilar to a military drill. Many companies have a parade one Sunday a month; all members are required to attend a family service in church before parading around the parish, usually with a band. Due to the parades taking place, drill is practised on company nights. The length and complexity of drill varies with each section. By the time members reach JTC the older members are encouraged to take it in turns to command drill.
Taking groups away is a large part of the Brigade, while there may be only two or three camps a year at company level, there are many more when escalated through battalion, regimental and national levels.
There are several national camps available, one being a trip to Butlins and another being 'spring adventure' (the location varies), these are both early in the year. While in these examples members are not in tents, many brigade companies choose to take their members on expeditions, sometimes working towards their Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Members are taught how to put a tent up, to cook for themselves and campsite etiquette.
Members are encouraged to get involved with a number of sports, while games of various natures are played on company nights there are competitive events for football, netball, swimming, rounders and athletics. Some of these sports are used as competitions between battalions and then between regiments. This encourages members to meet people from other places and discuss the brigade with them.
For example each February, battalions are invited to take part in a unihoc contest. The different companies stay at Butlins, in Skegness for 2 or 3 nights. Medals are awarded to the winning teams. Unihoc is a version of hockey, played with a puck, and plastic hockey sticks. There is also an athletics competition in which regiments compete for the trophies.
Many Brigade companies in the United Kingdom also have a marching band, with instruments such as: drums, bugles, cymbals and glockenspiels. Several bands also run successful brass and woodwind bands. Brigades teach their members these instruments and encourage lessons outside the Brigade.
Many battalions and regiments run their own band competitions for their member companies, there is also a National Band Competition for the bands to compete in which takes place annually around May time within which many of the Brigade companies take part from all over the country including Leicestershire, East Anglia and the North of England.
Historically many companies have a large bugle section, therefore choosing to play bugle marches such as Assam Rifles, The Little Bugler and Mechanised Infantry. Other companies that have a more pronounced brass and woodwind section will play more marches such as Aces High.
To support individual companies the CLCGB runs a National Band, aiming to extend the talents of its members by providing training and an opportunity to play in a band of over 60 members. Summer tours have seen the band play across Britain, Europe and as far away as New York. The band play a variety of music, having a talented brass and woodwind section along with their accomplished traditional Drum Corps, Bugle Corps and mallet section.
The Brigade has a National Choir. Formed in 1991 the choir welcomes members from all regions in which the Brigade operates and provides the opportunity for members to extend and express their vocal talents. It supports Brigade events and performs three concerts in the autumn of each year. It has also in recent years played a central role in the Brigades Annual Service of Remembrance held each November in the Chapel of the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire.
Membership of the choir has varied over the years from a low of about 25 to a high of nearly 50. The choir's repertoire covers a wide range from modern and popular classics to full choral pieces. In recent years a small band of accompanists has developed including guitar, bass and percussion.
Formed in 1996, the Historical Group has made a positive contribution within the Brigade. Its membership is very varied, encompassing all ages and interests, including members from Newfoundland, Canada and South Africa. We have built up a friendly and constructive relationship with the keepers of the Archives of the Newfoundland Church Lads’ Brigade and share material. We share a desire to learn about our heritage in a constructive way. Aiming to educate members using attractive and interactive methods and a new historical information sheet has been produced along with numerous factsheets. The cataloguing and conservation of the National Headquarters archives along with provision of a Reference Library have all now been initiated.
Membership brings with it the opportunity to receive the Group's Brigader Magazine twice a year and the Newfoundland CLB Bugle plus offers of merchandise not available from NHQ. The Secretary can be contacted via NHQ.
Members are encouraged to pray at least once on company nights. This prayer is the standard brigade prayer and is said all over the country.
'Heavenly Father, bless and guide with your spirit the work of the Church Lads' and Church Girls' Brigade. Help us never be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified. To fight valiantly under his banner against sin, the world and the devil, and to continue as his faithful soldiers and servants to the end of our lives. Amen'
Some companies, such as St James Brightlingsea, will say Grace at the end of The Brigade Prayer.
'The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, evermore. Amen'
The CLB is mentioned in the traditional Newfoundland song Recruiting Sargeant which honours the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The ballad was made internationally famous in 1997 when it was covered by the Canadian folk rock band Great Big Sea.