The 72nd Birmingham Boys' Brigade Company: History

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Welcome. A short history of the Company.

In 1946 the Rev H B Roberts and Shirley Baptist Church felt the need for an organisation for boys. The Scout Troop which had been in existence earlier had been disbanded. Things were not easy so soon after the war, but never the less, the 72nd Birmingham Company of the Boys' Brigade was founded on 28th March 1946.

Rev Roberts was the founder Chaplain, and Mr Will Cooke was the first Captain, assisted by Mr J Booton, who later became an Officer. The Company grew under the Captaincy of Mr Cooke. Mr J W Vanandel, a Captain of a London BB Company, moved to Shirley after the War to work in Colmore Row, Birmingham. As an experienced BB Officer, Mr Vanandel was asked to take over the Captaincy, and Mr W Cooke graciously stood down to enable this to happen. This took place on 14th August 1947.

In those days the Company had its own Bible Class which met in an old, smokey Nissen hut, quite separate from the Sunday School. The espirit-de-corpes was terrific and Mr J W Vanandel has recorded that those were "Happy days". That year the 72nd won the Battalion Drill Cup, and were blessed with a number of Baptisms. In 1953, on his birthday, Mr J W Vanandel was struck down with a nasty illness, which slowed him down, and on 14th September 1954 he retired as Captain.

In the summer of 1953 the Company put on a fine display, with three Sergeants being most impressive. They were David Roberts, Gordon Kemp and David Vanandel. National Service was still in operation and the 72nd quickly lost the latter two boys. David Roberts moved away from Shirley to attend College, then did his National Service, prior to spending a term away as a Missionary in Africa. Within a few weeks of Mr Vanandel's illness, the only other Officer, Mr Fred Goadby, also had to resign. This created a real crisis between 1954 and 1955 for the 72nd, because it now had no Officers and no senior NCOs, just four good Lance-Corporals. The Rev Roberts decided to run the Company himself and appealed for a Deacon, or Church Member, to help him. Mr Les Gask, who had been a BB Officer in a Leicester Company for One year, volunteered and between them they recognised their inexperience. The 35th Birmingham Company at Shirley Methodist Church were a great help, and they sent an Officer to help on Parade nights. The 72nd Officers opened Parade nights with devotions and inspection, and the visiting Officer took Company Drill. Mr Ted Price took physical training and games, whilst the Minister and Mr Gask were getting tea and biscuits ready in the 'old Kitchen', for the break.

In 1955 Mr Price became Captain and took over from the Rev Roberts, and ran the company for two years. Mr Gask continued his service as Treasurer to the 72nd, being responsible for all uniform and administration matters, as well as being Church Treasurer. By the time Mr Price retired, Mr Gordon Kemp was back from National Service, and he became Captain in 1957 and remained in the post until 1960 when Mr David Vanandel took over the Captaincy until 1970 when he retired from Boys' Brigade work.

Mr Brian Pike became Captain in 1970 until 1974 when he moved away from Shirley. The Company thrived well during this period. Mr Micheal Standbridge (who is now a Baptist Minister) was made Captain in 1974 and served until 1976. During this time, our Annual Camp was taken in Dortmund - Brackel, Germany and was attended by most of the Boys. This was made possible because Mr Ron Carter, a Company Officer, was also an Officer in the British Army and was posted to Germany. He was able to arrange for the 72nd to use the Army Camp facilities whilst the soldiers were on leave, and only a skeleton staff on-site.

Mr Maurice Orford who had been helping with the Company on Parade Nights took the Captaincy on for a year from 1976 until 1977. Mr Graham (Chalky) White became Captain in 1978 and the 72nd were providing classes the Boys' enjoyed. Mr & Mrs White were contemplating moving home to Norfolk, and it looked as if the 72nd would be in trouble should this move happen quickly, as seemed probable. In the event, they did not move, but Mr White continued to serve as an Officer in the Company. Not wishing the 72nd to be without leadership, Mr Don Mulingani and Mr John Ratheram, with the support of their wives, offered to be joint Captains and share the responsibilities and to fill the gap. John, a deacon, was new to BB work, although Don had been in the 16th Birmingham Company at Kings Heath Baptist as a boy until he was 18. Unfortunately, John died suddenly in 1982, leaving don to carry on.

1983 was of course the Boys' Brigade Centenary and was, for the 72nd, a very busy year. A report on the 72nd's activities was produced. A major project was a new BB Club House, built on the site of an old oil tank at the top of the Church drive. Labour was provided by Steadfast Community Project free of charge provided the 72nd bought all the materials. Work was completed and it opened in September 1983.

Annual Camps continued until 1985, when the number of Boys who were prepared to go to camp made it uneconomic for our usual formal tented camps. Mr David Parsons and Mr Ian Mulingani ran expedition style camps for two years during 1986 and 1987.

Mr Mulingani retired in 1988 and the Captaincy was taken over by Mr David Parsons (previously boy and Officer) on the display in 1988. Unfortunately Mr Parsons moved job and home to Lincoln and he had to relinquish the Captaincy in 1990. Mr Les Taylor had moved to Shirley Baptist Church from Kings Heath Baptist Church where he had been a BB Officer, and following much thought and discussion accepted the Captaincy of the 72nd, and took office in September 1991. Mr Taylor stood down on 1st August 1998 and was succeeded by Mr Mark Read on 16 September 1998 after he had recently joined Shirley Baptist Church. Mr Read was new to Boys' Brigade, his wife was involved with Brownies and Guides and he helped her with these.

Announcing his retirement in 2004 Mr Read handed over the captaincy of the company at the end of his last camp in 2005 to Mr Kevin Harper.

Mr Harper had grown up through the ranks before moving away for the company, the church and the area. Having been back for several years, he had started off helping in the Junior Section before taking over the running of the section due to work taking Mr Aston's available time away.

In 2011 Kevin stood down as Captain, handing the reigns temporarily over to Rev J. Dobson (our chaplain). Later in the same year, Neil retired from the Junior Section, leadership of which passed over to a team of ongoing officer David Parsons, Rev Jennie Dobson and new officer Pauline Gunn.

In the early part of 2012 Rev J. Dobson went on sabbatical in Canada, where she received a new calling from God. During this sabbatical and subsequently Mr T.Davis was made acting Captain. Meanwhile the search for a Captain continued.

Mr Stuart Fisher, a new church member, accepted the position of Captain and commenced this role in September 2012

From September 2016 we moved our year 3 Boys up from Anchor Boys' to Junior Section to keep the sections viable.

Jamie Collett took up the reins from Stuart from September 2017.
A previous application to Asda Foundation saw our Company as one of the charities chosen for their Green token scheme. We were a runner up and received a useful donation to help with the running of the Company.
We held a '72 Years of the 72nd' party which was attended by many 'old' Boys and many of the surviving Captains. Many memories were shared and some of the archive material reviewed and augmented.

Adapted from an article produced by Mr D.Mulingani for the Birmingham Battalion Centenary and maintained as current.


from to Captain
7/ 9/17 Present Jamie Collett
7/ 9/12 5/9/17 Stuart Fisher
Sep 11 July 2012 Acting Captains Rev J Dobson and Mr T.Davis
30/ 7/05 2011 Kevin Harper
16/ 9/98 30/ 7/05 Mark Read
7/ 6/90 1/8/98 Les Taylor
8/11/88 1990 David Parsons
13/10/80 16/ 5/88 Donald Mulingani - Joint
13/10/80 1983 John Ratherham - Joint
23/ 6/78 17/ 5/80 Graham White
1976 1977 Maurice Orford
1974 1978 Micheal Standbridge
15/ 6/70 18/ 5/74 Brian Pike
7/11/60 1970 David Vanandel
17/10/57 7/11/60 G Kemp
10/10/55 17/10/57 Ernest Price
1954 1955 No Captain
14/ 8/47 14/ 9/54 John W Vanandel
28/ 3/46 1947 Will H Cooke - founder


from to Chaplain
July 2012 Present Rev P Campion
Sep 2005 July 2012 Rev J Dobson
1991 Sep 2005 Rev K White
Sep 82 1990 Rev P Stevenson
29/3/65 1981 Rev L B Keeble
28/3/46 1964 Rev H B Roberts