Buchan Battalion Boys' Brigade General News PRESIDENT’S REPORT – 2023


At last night’s Council Meeting Battalion President Marc Thomson gave his report of the session which we reproduce for you all below:


It’s hard to believe I’ve been Battalion President for just over a year. When I look back over the past 12 months, there have been many notable highlights but unfortunately, there were a few sad points as well.


The evening after becoming President, I was delighted to attend the joint Parent’s Night of the 1st Fraserburgh Anchors & Junior Sections, to present Mrs Sheila Watt with a personal letter of thanks, marking her retirement after 47 years as OIC of the Anchor section.


Along with Yvonne Duthie, I attended a zoom meeting, with President’s & Secretaries from across Scotland on 25th April to discuss issues facing the Boys’ Brigade, particularly in Scotland. This led to a Scottish wide WhatsApp group being created where Battalions can share ideas, raise concerns or ask for advice and a Scottish Battalions Conference, held at Carronvale, on 7th May, which again we attended via zoom.


The Battalion Vault launched on 30th April with over 3,000 photographs, videos & documents from Companies and Battalion events from over the years. Well done to Ross Duthie who set this up and to everyone who contributed to it. If you haven’t had a look yet, here is the link: https://vault.buchanbb.org.uk/


In May, our minibus had a makeover and now advertises the Boys’ Brigade & Buchan Battalion wherever it goes. My thanks to Watermill Coaches for their continued help & support with our minibus.


At the end of May, I, along with Jim Muirhead MBE & Michael Strachan, attended a service of thanksgiving for HM The Queen at St. Ninian’s & Forglen Parish Church, Turriff. The service was organised by the Presbytery of Buchan and was a wonderful evening to mark the Queen’s historic 70-year reign.


On 3rd June, I accompanied 1st Fraserburgh & 1st Rosehearty to Kinnaird Head Lighthouse to witness the Jubilee Beacon being lit by The Hon. Mrs Kate Nicolson DL. It was a very enjoyable evening and a great experience for all to get the chance to keep the lighthouse lens spinning. I think everyone enjoyed the late-night McDonalds treat as well! Thanks to Michael Strachan for organising this and it was great to see the 4th & 5th Fraserburgh Companies attending on the 3rd night as well.


In June, we were all devastated with the news that Duncan Leel Jnr had passed away at the age of 40. Duncan had been a member of 1st New Pitsligo before moving to 1st Fraserburgh, where he remained for the rest of his life. He was very well known across the Battalion and Scotland, as he led the 1st Fraserburgh Bugle Band which performed at many BB Scotland Championships, as well as other events across Scotland and Battalion Parades. It was heartening to see the huge number of current & former BB members who attended Duncan’s funeral and formed a Guard of Honour.


On the 11th of June, over 90 young people enjoyed a fun day at Strichen Community Park to mark HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Leaders, Juniors, Company & Seniors walked the old Buchan line from Lonmay or Maud to Strichen, where they joined the Anchors for some potted sport activities as well as some treats. We were delighted that The Hon. Mrs Kate Nicolson DL attended to plant a tree from the Buchan Battalion, as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy. There is a plaque with the tree, which can be seen in Strichen Community Park. My thanks to all who made the very enjoyable day possible.


Later in June, we received more sad news when we learned of the passing of George Birkett, former leader with the 1st Mintlaw, who kept the Company going for decades to provide activities and opportunities for young boys in the area.


In late August, we were sad to hear of the passing of Andrew West, after a short illness. Andra was a leader in the 1st Fraserburgh Company Section & was Queen’s Badge Advisor for the Battalion for nearly 24 years. Andra put hundreds of young men through their Queen’s Badge and ensured the Buchan Battalion kept to the highest standards. Andra received a guard of honour from the BB at his funeral and will be sadly missed.


On the 3rd of September, I was delighted to attend the Braemar Gathering, along with Michael Strachan, Denise Simpson & Kaelyn Simpson, at the invitation of Aberdeen & District Battalion. Although a long day, it was very enjoyable being a steward and meeting so many people from across the world. I would recommend the experience to everyone, if they get the opportunity in the future.


After celebrating The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we were all saddened to hear of her passing in September, aged 96. Her late Majesty was Patron of the Boys’ Brigade for 70 years and was a great example and inspiration to us all. It was good to see members from the 1st Rosehearty helped to line the streets in Aberdeen to give a final salute as her cortege passed by.


Along with the conference in Orkney, the NSA held 4 Executive Meetings, one of which was hosted by Buchan at the Fraserburgh Lighthouse Museum. My thanks to Michael for facilitating the venue and to Yvonne for attending the last Executive in my absence.

Buchan Battalion was well represented at the NSA Conference in Orkney at the beginning of October, after everyone eventually managed to get there due to the high winds.

It was my 1st trip to Orkney, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The activities, workshops, parade & service along with the company were all 1st class. We look forward to this year’s NSA Conference in Inverness on the 6th-8th October.


Stuart Pratt, long time Captain of 1st New Pitsligo, retired after 45 years’ service. Stuart was involved with the Company’s Junior & Company Sections and was on the Battalion Executive, representing the Junior Section. We were very sad to hear of his sudden passing in late October. Stuart also received a BB guard of honour at his funeral.


In November, it was great to see such a large turnout from the Boys’ Brigade at the Remembrance Parade in Fraserburgh, with 65 members in attendance. Well done to Ruary McDonald for carrying the Battalion Colour and to Jon Anderson & Brody Tocher for laying the wreath at the War Memorial.


Buchan Battalion organised the Christmas Card competition on behalf of the North Scottish Area. There were 507 entries and my thanks to Mrs Sheila Watt for selecting the winners for each age group.


I have attended several services of the 4th/5th Fraserburgh and was honoured to present 9 young men with their President’s Badges, all of whom have now achieved their Queen’s Badge.

I was delighted to attend the 70th Anniversary celebrations of 4th Fraserburgh at the Fraserburgh Leisure Centre where it was great to see former members as well as many current members in attendance. I once again congratulate everyone involved with the 4th Fraserburgh for reaching their Platinum Jubilee.

My thanks to Captain Martin Dunbar for inviting me to all these events.


On the 12th of March, the Battalion Parade was held in Rosehearty, as 2023 marks the Company’s Centenary. The weather was a little kinder than the last time we paraded in Rosehearty but still gave us rain on the march back to the Square. I was very pleased with the large turnout and that 8 companies were involved with the laying down of the old Colours and dedication of the new Colours. My thanks to our Chaplain, Rhoda McDonald, for conducting an excellent service.

I was delighted to present Captain Stevie Wilson of 1st Strichen and Lieutenant Yvonne Duthie of 1st Fraserburgh with their long service awards for 32 & 22 years’ service respectively. Both are stalwarts for the Boys’ Brigade and are very dedicated leaders, giving their time for the Battalion as well as their own companies. Well done again to both.


My congratulations to the 9 young men who completed their DofE Bronze & Silver assessed hikes in July. Thanks to Stevie Wilson and all leaders who assist with the preparation, training and assessing.


Congratulations to the 24 young men who have achieved the highest award in the BB at the end of last session and during this session. Their hard work and dedication have paid off and I have been interested to learn of all the volunteering and skills they have been working on over the last 2 years. Thanks to Michael Strachan, Queen’s Badge Advisor, for ensuring the Battalion’s QB record books are being kept to a high standard. Our newest Queen’s Men include: Jordan Smith (1st Fraserburgh), Adam Ireland (4th Fraserburgh), Ruary McDonald (4th Fraserburgh), Joshua Ritchie (4th Fraserburgh), Robbie Stewart (1st Strichen), Kyle Strachan (1st Strichen), Glen Mitchell (1st Strichen), Nicholas Birnie (4th Fraserburgh), Liam McDonald (4th Fraserburgh), Christopher Gammack (5th Fraserburgh), Archie Buchan (4th Fraserburgh), Jonathan Beagrie (4th Fraserburgh), Marcus Cook (4th Fraserburgh), Aaron Hastie (4th Fraserburgh), Lewis Noble (5th Fraserburgh), Calum Scott (4th Fraserburgh), Nathan Smith (1st Fraserburgh), Andrew Marshall (1st Fraserburgh), Marcus Stuart (1st Fraserburgh), Ryan Watt (1st Fraserburgh), Andrew Strachan (1st Fraserburgh), Ross Duthie (1st Fraserburgh), Brandon Mowat (1st New Pitsligo) & Connor Mowat (1st New Pitsligo).


Well done to Joel Finnie of 1st New Pitsligo whose entry to the Platinum Jubilee Colouring Competition was chosen as one of 70 out of over 500+ entries to create a card for HM The Queen.

Well done to members of the 4th/5th Fraserburgh who took part in the BB National FIFA competition and made it to the 3rd round.

I was delighted that Buchan Battalion was represented by 5 boys from 1st Strichen & 1st Rosehearty at the Scottish Cross Country Championships and that they came 3rd in the Junior Division, well done to them and thanks to Stevie & Michael for transporting/ accompanying them to Buckie.

It is great to see members of our Battalion taking part in nationwide events.


I am delighted that Ross Duthie agreed to be nominated for the U26 Rep for North Scottish Area on the Scotland Committee and wish him all the best if he becomes a Scotland Committee Rep.


I would like to thank Beth for all her hard work and commitment to the Boys’ Brigade, especially in Buchan. She will be a miss, but we wish her well in her new venture.


Anchors, Juniors, Company & Seniors

It has been great to see Battalion Competitions back in full swing this session, with Anchors & Juniors hosting more and Companies hosting for the 1st time. My thanks to all for taking the time to organise these competitions and giving up more time for our young people. Congratulations to 4th Fraserburgh who have won the Sid Newlands Trophy for attaining the most points over the last session at Junior Section Competitions.

In ending my report, I would like to thank all who have advised and supported me over the last year and to all for the hard work you put into our Battalion, making it, in my opinion, the best Battalion in Scotland.


President, Boys’ Brigade Buchan Battalion