CHAPLAIN’S EXHORTATION FOR THE FINAL PARADE OF
THE BB 1ST & GB 7TH COMPANY
Pioneer Secondary School
26 November 2016
I was at the petrol kiosk on Monday. While waiting in the queue, I glanced to the left and saw on the display shelf something that caught my attention. There was a row of small red boxes containing tea bags. I am not a tea drinker, so what was it that really caught my attention? On the cover of the red boxes were the words, “Keep Calm and Carry On”. These words have been imitated many times giving rise to all kinds of versions such as, “Keep calm and dream big”, “Keep calm and study hard” and even “Keep calm and have a tea break”. We can even say, “Keep calm and join BB & GB”! But the original words, “Keep Calm and Carry On”, were actually printed as a poster many years ago. Do you know the origin of this poster?
Back during World War II, all Europe fell under the military might of Nazi Germany. Only Britain stood alone against the Nazi invasion. In order to prepare for this invasion, the German Air Force unleashed waves after waves of bombers to destroy military and civilian infrastructures in London and other major cities to force Britain to surrender. Those 3 months of air battle between the Royal Air Force and the German Air Force was known as the Battle of Britain. The destruction was so massive that there were at least 40,000 deaths and 50,000 injured. In order to prepare the civilians for the bombing and to sustain their morale, the British government produced posters with these words, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” There at the petrol kiosk, I bought one set, not for the tea bags, but rather for the box itself and it is now displayed in my office to remind myself – “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
This is the message that I bring to you on this final parade of our BB 1st and GB 7th Company. Over these 2 decades, Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church has kept our commitment in our partnership with Pioneer Secondary School. However, changes in national demographics and lowering school intake over the years had triggered this merger of Pioneer Secondary School with Boon Lay Secondary School. After a few months of dialogue with BBHQ and school leaders, the final decision was that our 10 BB Boys will be transferred and entrusted to the incumbent BB 82nd Company in Boon Lay Secondary. Our 1st Company will then stand down for a period of time while we continue our search for another sponsoring school with the help of the BBHQ. Our GB 7th Company will be allowed to operate for 1 more year at Boon Lay Secondary to allow the Girls to complete their badgework. At the end of 2017, the 7th Company will also stand down as well. We know that our Boys and Girls, the alumni and church members are saddened by this outcome, but we wish to invite the Boys and Girls to consider joining our Jurong Youth Fellowship so that we can continue our friendship and mentoring. As the Chaplain, I am not spared from this sadness as well, but my message to all is this – “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
There are 3 reasons why we can “Keep Calm and Carry On”. The first reason is God’s providence. If this school merger had happened 1 or 2 years earlier, we would not have the impetus to partner Pioneer Primary School to start the BB 1st Junior Company last year and then followed by the GB 88th Junior Company this year. The BB and GB work continues. Because of God’s providence, “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
The second reason why we can “Keep Calm and Carry On” is God’s promise. The BB motto – “Sure and Stedfast” – is inspired by the Bible. In Hebrews 6:9, it is written, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast.” When a boat is docked in a harbour, it is sheltered from strong winds and protected from stormy seas. But when the boat is out at sea, when the strong wind blows and the mighty waves crash, that is when you need an anchor that is sure and steadfast. “Sure and Stedfast” is not just a BB motto – it is God’s promise for us exactly at such a time like this. Because of God’s promise – “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
The third reason why we can “Keep Calm and Carry On” is God’s protection. The BB 1st Company was started in PSPC on 12 January 1930. Twelve years later, the Japanese Occupation started and BB activities were suspended. The BB Captain at that time, Mr SP Chua, buried the BB flag and hid some of the drums in one of the rooms in the church. After the war years, Mr SP Chua revived the 1st Company, dug out the BB flag and unfurled it once again. If God could protect the 1st Company through the turmoil of war, God can protect the 1st Company through the turbulence of a school merger. Because of God’s protection – “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
Schools come and go, but God’s work continues and His kingdom will never end. Because of God’s providence, promise and protection – “Keep Calm and Carry On”!
Rev Darryl Chan