DofE 50th Anniversary
At 08.45 on Saturday, 2nd September 2006 Brigade Council members gathered in pouring rain under the awning of County Hall in Cardiff to the sound of the 5th Croydon Company Pipes and Drums Band. This was the much-heralded start of the Relay which over the next nine weeks would carry the above message to H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh to mark the 50th Anniversary of his Award. The message was locked inside a silver baton surmounted by a B.B. crest and previously used at the Silver Jubilee of King George V and then in 1952 presented to King George VI. A laminated copy of the message accompanied the baton so that participants in the Relay could read it for themselves and an opportunity was also provided for them to comment about The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. The Brigade President with the Lord Mayor of Cardiff at his side gave a short speech and, following a blessing on the message and those taking part by the Brigade Chaplain (Rev. Trevor Wilson), handed the silver baton to Rhys Davies of the 21st Cardiff Company representing Wales District who immediately passed it on to the Drum Major of the 5th Croydon Company Pipes and Drums Band and within a few minutes the Band had changed and were running and cycling to Pen-y-Fan in the Brecon Beacons. The Relay was under way – the message was subsequently collected by representatives from the Cardiff Battalion at Pont ar Daf car park on A4 70 south of Storey Arms and eight members of the 21st Cardiff Company cycled the Message to the Civic Centre at Newport where it was handed to Thomas Williams of the 2nd Blackwood Company of Newport and Gwent Battalion and taken by foot to Tredegar Park in Newport to be handed to Sgt. Darren Purnell for transport to the Nottingham Battalion. Adam Walker of the 17th Nottingham Company included the baton in his relay games with 19 members of the Junior Section with whom he is working for the Service Section of the Award.
Later that same week it was carried by Gold Final Expedition participants from Nottingham Battalion and Nottinghamshire District of The Girls’ Brigade in the Peak District on foot from Holme Moss Transmitter for approximately 23 kilometres. The baton was then taken by motor vehicle right across country to the 1st Malvern Company (Gloucestershire Battalion) and handed over by the Chairman of Malvern Town Council (Councillor Mike Selby) to be transported by 6 members of the 1st Malvern Company by cycle approximately 19 kilometres to Droitwich Spa train station and then taken over by members from the Worcestershire Battalion. The 2nd Bromsgrove Company then carried the baton on foot to pass it on to the 1st Kidderminster Company at the home of the 1st Lye Company. Paul Hatton (under 25s representative on the Worcestershire Battalion Executive) presented the baton to the Battalion Executive Meeting. It was then the turn of the 1st Kidderminster Company Drum and Bugle Band who played whilst carrying the baton to the 4th Halesowen Company who carried it by foot across the north of Worcestershire to pass it to members from the 1st Halesowen Company. On by foot to the 1st Redditch Company who carried it on a day of orienteering around the Lickey Hills and completed the Worcestershire Battalion leg by handing it over to the Birmingham Battalion. By now it was 1st September and the Wolverhampton Battalion were ready to play their part taking the baton over at Brasshouse Lane, Smethwick at the car park of the Canal Heritage Centre and transport it to the Wolverhampton Battalion Council Meeting at Ketley, Telford where they were updated on the Relay. Then by cycle along the canal side over approximately 60 miles using Birmingham Canal and the Staffs. and Worcester Canal and picking up The Shropshire Union Canal to finish east of Whitchurch at Audlem Lock and hand over to East Cheshire at the Shroppie Fly.
On 24th September the baton was present at the Enrolment Service of the 1st Elworth Company from where it was received at the East Cheshire Battalion Council Meeting and then transported by bikes in three stages including the Sandstone Trail by the 1st Haslington and 1st Elworth Companies from Audlem to Frodsham (Beacon Hill) where at noon on 30th September it was handed over to the North Cheshire Battalion. The baton was walked down Beacon Hill and transported to Spike Island, West Bank to be taken over by the 2nd and 9th Widnes Companies on the Trans-Pennine Trail and transported to the 2nd Altrincham Company to be taken a further 4 miles by cycle on the Trans-Pennine Trail and roads to Altrincham Methodist Church and passed to members from the 7th Altrincham Company to travel 5 miles by foot with packs via Timperley to Park Gates at Wythenshawe. The 5th Manchester Company transported the baton 6 miles on foot to Christ Church Parrs Wood Road and then on to Green Bank Fields at Levenshulme where the 1st Denton Company then took over to run 4 miles to Hope U.R.C. at Denton.
During the following week the baton was taken to visit Companies in the Manchester and District Battalion. The week culminated on Saturday, 7th October with the baton being taken to Albert Square in Manchester at 9.30 a.m. where the Deputy Lord Mayor of Manchester (Mr. Glynn Evans) received it together with members of the Manchester and District Battalion plus past recipients of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award at Manchester Town Hall. The Band of the 3rd Trafford Company was in attendance. From Albert Square the 3rd Trafford Company transported it by running and by car 9 miles to the A.580 East Lancashire Road at the crossing point of the Bridgewater Canal and the 50th Manchester Company transported it a further 2 miles by running to the car park of Foresters Arms Motel on A.580 at Lately Common and handed it over to the St. Helens and District Battalion. On to Ormskirk to be handed over to Southport and District Battalion for the District Meeting at Wigan and then to Hartlepool Battalion team (North of England District) at Tebay at near Cow Green Reservoir in Teesdale. The team was made up of representatives from the 1st , 3rd , 4th and 9th Hartlepool Companies and the baton carried by foot and motor vehicle to the camp site at Eggleston in Teesdale. During this transit north, Boys from Gateshead, South Shields and Morpeth were transported to Eggleston where the groups camped overnight. Then it was the turn of a team from 10th South Shields to take over and pass the baton to members from the 3rd Gateshead at Stonehaugh, Northumberland for it to be carried to Bellingham via Hamsterley Forrest, County Durham to be handed over to the Scots. The 10th South Shields Company Band gave a display in front of the Heritage Centre at Bellingham and the baton was handed over from the North of England District to Scotland to be carried over the border to Bymess.
The baton then travelled via Uswayford, Kirk Yetholm, Old Hall, Galashiels, Traquair, Stobo, Netherurd to Auddiewell by cycle and foot and was then taken by cycle from Auddiewell to the Scotland Regional Headquarters at Carronvale near Larbert in Falkirk by 5th Livingston Company. Companies involved were the 1st New Deer, 1st Larkhall, 25th Edinburgh, 1st Vale of Leven, 4th Dunfermline and 2nd Blantyre. On 6th November it was taken alongside the Forth and Clyde Canal and finally by road by four members of 3rd Kilsyth to Edinburgh. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award General Council met at Edinburgh International Conference Centre and at 4.30 p.m. the Message from The Boys’ Brigade was presented to The Duke of Edinburgh personally by representatives of England and Wales (Michael Gregory, 1st Burton-in-Kendal Company), Scotland (James Brodie, 1st New Deer Company), and Northern Ireland (John Bogle, 1st Loughaghery Company) along with the book containing comments about The Award from participants’ who have taken part in the Relay. The relay was a mammoth task which undoubtedly helped to publicise both The Award and The Boys’ Brigade.