Century of service for BB stalwarts Alan and Jenny
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A CENTURY of voluntary service is a record few couples can boast, but for two Buckie Boys' Brigade stalwarts it has all been part of the service.
As part of a series in the Advertiser focusing on five Buckie BB stalwarts with an astonishing 265 years' service between them, the spotlight turns first of all on Company Captain Alan McIntosh and his wife Jenny.
Alan first set foot on what was to prove a long and rewarding road back in 1962 as a fresh-faced Lifeboy while Jenny, along with fellow long-stager Catherine Stewart, set up what is now the Anchor Boys section back in 1978.
From the Lifeboys – whose name was changed to its current Junior section in 1966 – Alan worked his way up through the ranks to eventually become the captain of 1st Company Buckie Boys' Brigade in what has been a lifetime of dedication. He has served in his current role for 41 years.
However, he has his mother to thank for setting him down the right road.
"People join the BBs for a lots of different reasons, in my case my mother was a staunch South and West kirk member and, as that's the Buckie BBs' home church, I ended up going," he recalled.
"It's obviously very different in a lot of ways since I started or even from when I first became an officer when I was just 17 or 18 years old.
"However, for me the basic principles are the same – discipline and Christian faith. They are still the twin pillars.
"The way we do things may have changed over the years but the ultimate object remains the same. We have had to modernise and that is one of the key reasons behind the company's continued success in being the biggest in not just Scotland but the UK as a whole, with around 200 boys.
"For example, we don't do the traditional camp weekends anymore but instead do residential weekends. We offer the boys trips to London and thanks to our local MP Douglas Ross boys have had the chance to see inside parliament and to stand at the door of No 10.
"We offer them a chance to do a great many things they might not otherwise get the opportunity to do. I think one of the secrets to our ongoing success has been developing programmes which are suitable for the boys' ages, needs and interests.
"However, we haven't forgotten the traditional aspect such as bible study, which around 70 boys attend normally."
Alan went on to say that it was "disappointing" that many of the high profile events in Buckie and across the north-east at which the company would normally be present, as well as sporting meetings, had been scrapped this year because of Covid-19 but stated that it had not dampened enthusiasm going forward.
He added: "I've been Company Captain for 41 years now and I suppose it was just a sort of natural progression up through the ranks.
"It's been a way of life for me, a priority and I suppose I've been fortunate that I worked as a teacher with a regular, five-days-a-week work schedule which was a great help when it came to organising things and so on. I've also been privileged to work with an amazing and dedicated team over the years."
Prior to creating a new section in the company with Catherine, Jenny's involvement had centred largely round supporting roles such as helping out at various fund-raisers.
She said: "We'd visited other BB companies and they had something similar and at the same time the Scouts had started taking kids in at a younger age, too so we thought we'd give it a try.
"When Catherine and I first started we had just 13 boys but its grown a lot over the years. Last year we had about 60 Anchor Boys signed up.
"It's been a hugely satisfying role, especially seeing generations of boys go through the sections to doing their Queen's Badge.
"However, it's meant a lot of commitment over so many years, from ourselves and many other folk, but it's been worth it.
"I think we've helped create something lasting here."
The couple were to find themselves the recipients of a Royal accolade to recognise their decades of selfless dedication when, at the end of 2017, it was announced they were each to receive the British Empire Medal in the Queen's new year honours list. They remain one of the few couple to be awarded the BEM at the same time.
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