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 sher­lock@par­ for more in­for­ma­tion.


Ron Bichan, 88, is or­gan­is­ing a re­union of the Porirua East Boys’ Brigade.

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