Bringing the boys back to town
A boys’ brigade chaplin is searching for the young men he knew 45 years ago.
Ron Bichan, 88, remembers everything about the boys of Porirua East’s 33rd Company, as a presbyterian minister, he even officiated at some of their weddings, but he’s since lost touch with some of them.
Bichan and the troop’s leader, Captain Blair Stewart, are organising a reunion of the group after a photo reminded them of an important day in the troop’s history.
In 1971 the brigade earned the privilege of parading a new flag at a dedication service at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.
‘‘It felt like it was a bit of a ‘up you mate. We’re from Porirua East and we amount to something,’’’ Bichan said.
‘‘To have Porirua East in there with Ngaio and Khandallah was something.’’
The reunion will take place in Porirua exactly 45 years after a photo of the proud moment was taken and Bichan is searching for members of the troop who used to meet at St Martin’s Church, McKillop St.
A church-based group for young men, the first boys’ brigade began in 1883 in Glasgow, Scotland and came to New Zealand three years later.
Bichan was minister of Waikato’s Mangakino parish for ten years before he moved to Porirua.
‘‘Nobody wanted to go to Porirua East, because it had such a bad name and [the church] asked me twice to go.
‘‘We liked it, we really enjoyed the place and our kids went to college here.’’
In Porirua, Bichan trained to be a social worker and led his con- gregation for 12 years before leaving for the Hutt parish, but he often thinks about the boys from Porirua East.
‘‘They were a good bunch, Blair Stewart should be very proud of himself for those boys.
‘‘He couldn’t have more than 20 boys at a time because the hall they met in was was too small, but they were very successful.’’
Tramping in the Tararua ranges was a popular activity for the company as was creating the scroggin to eat on route. One year several of them made their own ‘‘Trapper Nelson packs’’, which involved hand sowing heavy canvas.
The reunion will take place on December 10, members of the troop can contact email@example.com for more information.
Ron Bichan, 88, is organising a reunion of the Porirua East Boys’ Brigade.