Tribute to Mr Maurice Williamson M.B.E.
Following a long and courageous battle against illness, it was with great sadness that we learned the sad news that our friend and B.B. colleague Maurice Williamson, Passed into Higher Service on Tuesday 17th November 2015.
All of us will have lots of different memories of Maurice and will have experienced the many sides to his character. Uppermost in his thoughts was ensuring that the Belfast Battalion was the best that it could be. Maurice had tremendous Vision and one of which he took great pride in and one which gave him particular pleasure especially through the various stages of its development over the last 20 years or so was Ganaway. He will long be remembered for bringing about the Strategy and securing the long-term viability of what is highly regarded as one of the best centres in Northern Ireland. Not forgetting Shepherd Lodge and latterly Belvoir Recreation Centre where recent developments were just coming to fruition soon after Maurice was taken ill. Such a lasting legacy of which he worked hard to accomplish.
Maurice was renowned for his use of the English language and his extensive vocabulary. He would always have a suitable word appropriate for a particular situation. His letter writing was Legendary – always courteous, grammatically correct and perfectly punctuated. He took time to ‘put pen to paper’ as soon as he heard of someone’s situation whether it be a joyful one or one filled with sorrow. It was never too much trouble for him to drop a wee line or two with a letter written so personally and meaningfully giving hope, encouragement and assurance to the recipient that they were not forgotten.
He had tireless energy for Boys’ Brigade at all levels whether it be as a Company Captain, a Brigade Training Officer, then formerly as Belfast Battalion Chief Executive and latterly as General Secretary, in that all he did, his attention to detail was meticulous. He had a methodical thought process and you could be sure that with Maurice’s plans, every ‘i’ was dotted and every ‘t’ crossed.
Maurice was a great supporter of young people and was keen to ensure they were given every opportunity to reach and achieve their potential. Over his lifetime he nurtured and greatly encouraged many young people to strive for and reach their own personal targets.
As an unashamed champion of The Boys’ Brigade Maurice took a strong stand for The B.B. ethos and would regularly recall his early experiences as a Boy and young leader in The Boys’ Brigade where he was influenced so much by sound teaching and gained valuable experience in a number of skills from the likes of Sam Chapman and John Small to name but two. He was particularly proud when he became Captain of the 80th Belfast BB Company based in ‘The Pass’ not too far from where The BB in Ireland was formed and carried on the great tradition of the 80th right up to its unfortunate demise with the closing of the Church.
A move to Bangor allowed Maurice to flex his B.B. worth in the newly formed 10th Bangor B.B. Company where he was once again able to work his B.B. magic in Ballychrochan.
In addition to his many achievements as the Captain of two successful B.B. Companies, one that he took great delight and found most pleasing was winning The B.B. Blue Ribbon Event namely the Northern Ireland District Squad Drill competition with both the 80th Belfast B.B. Company and some years later with the 10th Bangor B.B. Company. A first in the history of this particular Competition and an achievement not equalled to this day.
As one who had a strong faith, central to his thinking was The Boy and providing first class experiences to all. Where others doubted, he saw the value of each and every Boy and young person whom he came into contact with. He had a great passion for working with young people and enjoyed the full support of his late wife Maureen in all that he did in the name of The Boys’ Brigade. Maurice also had an extensive knowledge of the life and work of Sir Winston Churchill and was particularly proud to have been awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Bursary in 1976 to study the Youthwork scene in the Unites States of America and Canada.
He leaves a magnificent legacy and as we give our final Salute to Maurice, we know that he takes his place in that great Company under the command of our Great Captain whom he served so faithfully.