East Antrim Battalion - The Boys' Brigade

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History - Secretaries

2011-2014 Gillian Armstrong

A long time ago when I was in my teens I helped out with the Robins and the Lifeboys in 6th Newtownabbey in Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church. Then unfortunately my work commitments prevented me from attending every Wednesday parade night and so I sadly left the Boys Brigade.

I was married in 1986 and moved to Carrickfergus and while I tried to attend at Abbots Cross I was finding the travelling time consuming.
I attended various Churches in the Carrickfergus area for a few years until 1989 I started attending Downshire Presbyterian Church and in 1996 I was asked to help out with the Primary one Anchors. I did this until the end of the session in May 2000.

Due to family connections and commitments I began attending Holy Trinity Church of Ireland around September 2000 and my son was attending 8th Carrickfergus Junior Section at this point.

In February 2001 whilst dropping my son off at the Junior Section of 8th Carrickfergus I was asked if I was able to stay and 'help' out as some of the Officers were ill and there were not enough adults to supervise the boys in the Junior Section at 8th Carrickfergus. This led to a few weeks of helping out!

And then in September 2001 I was invited to come along a as a full-time helper.

I remained as a helper until I was persuaded to attend an Officer Training Course during the month of October 2005 when I was then enrolled as lieutenant.

In September 2006 I was enrolled as the Officer in charge of the Junior Section at 8th Carrickfergus and as such I was encouraged to attend Christmas Celebrations.

At the AGM in May 2007 I was elected at Junior Section Council Secretary and as such I became a member of the East Antrim Battalion Executive.

In May 2011 Mr Picton stepped down as Battalion Secretary and I was elected into the post.

2002-2011 Francis Picton

I grew up as a Boy in the 84th Belfast, connected to Lowe Memorial Presbyterian Church. I served in the Life Boys and Company from 1954 to 1963 gaining my Queen's Badge.

In 1967 I was asked to help revive a B.B. Company whose Captain was a good friend. I became a warrant Officer in the 107th Belfast connected with St. Nicholas Parish Church on the Lisburn Road in Belfast. I undertook my basic training in 1968 and continued to serve until 1972 when the troubles were affecting everyone and it often took me 45mins to 1 hour to travel a journey which today we would do in 20-25mins.

I had married and was living in Carrickfergus and had joined Joymount Church. 2nd Carrickfergus then became my home company for 13 years, until the establishment of a Church Extension charge at Downshire. I had been serving on the interim Kirk Session and was asked to form a new company which in 1886 was enrolled as 6th Carrickfergus.

After serving 10 years as Captain I stood down although continuing to serve as an Officer. In 2001 I was asked to understudy Brian Smyth who had indicated his intention to retire after 35 years in the post of Battalion Secretary and was elected as Secretary in 2002.

During my time as an Officer in Carrickfergus I have been involved in all committees of the Battalion and have been also been involved at NID level in the activities committee, drill judging and serving on the staff of various training courses mainly Queen's badge Leadership and OBT/YLT. I have recently been appointed a Brigade Training Officer.

I have been married to Elizabeth for 34 years and heve two daughters Beth and Sally. We have all served as Officers in 6th Carrickfergus and between us have given 60 years of service to the Boys' Brigade.


1967-2002 Brian Smyth