by Ivan Tang (17S03K), Lee Yee Teng (17A01E), Valerie Lim (17A01E), G. Sureendhar (17S06B), Neilsen Chan (17S03A), Tyrone Yeo (17S03G), Chia Zhi Yi (17S06A)
The 25th Annual Parade kick-started with a flourish. 57 Boys and 33 Primers proudly marched onto the parade grounds to a spectacular performance by the Pipes and Drums band of the Raffles Institution Boys’ Brigade (60th Singapore Company). This year, as RIBB celebrates its 25th Anniversary, we witnessed an incredible display of our achievements, along with the promotion of a record-number of 17 Year 1 students to the rank of Lance Corporal, as well as the handover of leadership from the Batch of 2016 to the Batch of
2017. The Parade was followed by a Dinner, which showcased our journey as a Company through these 25 years. The event reunited the entire Company, past and present, bringing alumni and pioneer teachers-in-charge since 1991 together to witness and celebrate the growth of their Company.
2016 was a fruitful year for the RIBB. Through the tireless efforts of our cadets, we once again obtained the Gold Award for the JM Fraser Award for Excellence, which recognises BB Companies for excellent holistic performance. We also clinched several other awards: including the first position for the Singapore-Southeast Asian Pipe Band Championships
Juvenile Category and the South 1 Cluster Drill Competition. The Company also performed well in the BB Blaze Competition and Character Quest Competition, emerging overall 5th and 3rd position respectively, from a field of more than 100 participating teams. Additionally, seven of our Year 4 boys were awarded the Founder’s Award by the Brigade, the highest award a Boy can achieve in the Seniors Programme.
The BB Programme prides itself on its diversity and plethora of available opportunities. Boys choose from a broad range of activities, covering different areas, including
adventure, music, community and character.
The BB Blaze Competition, an annual multi-disciplinary 40km adventure race, is the highlight of our Adventure programme. Boys are challenged to complete the route by
running, cycling, kayaking, and even open-water swimming components. Their navigation skills are put to the test as they find checkpoints along the route. As three-time Blazer Cadet Lieutenant Ivan Tang (17S03K) recalls, ‘I will never forget the pride and satisfaction I felt when my team crossed the finish line while holding on to each other’s hands, each of us drenched by the drizzle and unfortunate kayak capsize, cramping so bad we could hardly stand up.’
Beyond inculcating adventure skills, Blaze also presents an opportunity for Boys to learn to persevere through physical trials, build mental and emotional resilience, and the
importance of teamwork. These values are reinforced through the Character Quest (CQ) Competition, which aims to inculcate values and good decision-making skills through
dilemmas they face during various scenarios and station games. Former Deputy Company Sergeant Major, Officer Cadet Arel Chua (15S03N) fondly recalls how CQ has helped him to find principles to anchor his life to, even beyond Y5–6 and into University. The opportunities that the Officers gave him to step into a leadership role were central to nurturing the confident young man he is today. OCT Arel Chua was presented with the President’s Award by President Tony Tan in 2015 to mark his contributions to The Boys’ Brigade and to the wider community.
60th actively participates in the BB Share-A-Gift Project, an annual Community Project initiated by the Boys’ Brigade in Singapore to spread Christmas joy to more than 40,000 needy households. We help collect food donations from members of the public at various Fairprice outlets, which are transported to BB Headquarters for sorting and packing into gift hampers.
Finally, we personally deliver these hampers to the beneficiaries as a Christmas blessing. Senior Cadet Lieutenant Immanuel Leong (16S06S) reminisces about his experience,
‘Christmas is often lauded as a season of thanksgiving, but I only realised the true meaning of this when I saw it in the warm smiles of every beneficiary I blessed.’
60th Company had the privilege of receiving the support of Officers and staff from BB headquarters and other companies in its formative years. As we remember our humble
beginnings, we also bear in mind our duty to extend our help to other BB companies and the wider community around us.
Our large pool of 33 Primers – Year 5-6 big brothers and sisters who continue to serve in 60th BB even after completing the Secondary School Programmes for BB and GB,’ in the words of Cadet Lieutenant Valerie Lim (17A01E) – has given us the capacity to help out regularly at the 4th Singapore BB Company based in Whitley Secondary School. Our Primers have thus been engaged in running Drill and Adventure lessons for the Boys there.
Building 60th Company to its current strength of 90 has been no easy feat. Our journey began in 1990, when Mr Nicholas Tang, formerly the Principal of Victoria School, was
posted to RI to serve as our Deputy Headmaster. Having seen the good work of the 2nd Singapore BB Company based in Victoria School in shaping Boys into young men of strong
character, he decided that it would be good to establish a BB Company in RI.
‘I strongly believe in the role of non-formal education in shaping the character and values of youth,’ reflects Mr Tang. ‘I knew that the BB has very dedicated leaders. The quality of
non-formal education is determined not by its programme but by the quality of its leaders […] and of the relationship between its leaders and the Boys.’
With the support of Mr Edward Ng (who was the HOD for PE and CCA then, and is currently our Deputy Principal) and Ms Miko Tan (who was the HOD for Pupil Development), a meeting was arranged between other leaders in the Brigade such as Mr Hah Kuang Hui, Captain of Victoria School’s Boys’ Brigade (VSBB) at that time, and Mr Sam Tan, then
Brigade President. Finally, a consensus was reached and the RIBB was officially founded on 13 March 1991.
The young RIBB was led by a team of experienced and dedicated officers, including Mr Hah, Mr Jimmy Koh, and Mr Tye Yew Meng. We also bear gratitude to Boys and volunteers from other BB Companies and Organisations, such as SGT Chai Ming Hui and SGT Wong Ho Chai from the 2nd Company, as well as the late Mrs Sonja Cheong, Mr Ng Fook Kah and Dr Tan Soo Yong.
The RIBB’s first Teacher-in-Charge, Ms Lee Siew Lee, also played a vital role in growing our Company, especially in recruiting the Boys and caring for them. She had placed her own carom board in the BB Room so that Boys could enjoy it, and she would buy ballpoint
pens for Boys before their exams to encourage them. Ms Lee, wanting to better understand the Boys, even volunteered to sleep in a tent during a camp.
Ms Lee’s love, passion, and dedication really impacted the Boys and allowed them to really make the very best of their personal BB journeys. One such Boy was Benjamin Gaw.
‘I honestly can’t quite remember when BB was first announced but I believe I heard about BB from Ms Lee Siew Lee who was my Art teacher at that time. She was very
passionate about it,’ he said.
Mr Gaw then went on to serve as the first Company Sergeant Major (CCAL) of RIBB, and thereafter as Officer Commanding from 1998 to 2002.
The remarkable leadership and support of each and every one of these pioneers allowed us to progress tremendously, proving ourselves as a strong and attractive CCA in RI, as
described by Mr Edward Ng. Mr Ng also recalls:
‘Within the first two or three years of its establishment, we were starting to outperform many of the older units […]. I think we were Best Senior Company in a very short time. […] The [RIBB’s] curriculum [also] fits into our plan of developing leaders to serve the common good. We could see BB Boys taking on leadership positions in the school such as [that of being] prefects.’
This 25th Anniversary Dinner has been an invaluable opportunity to thank the pioneers of our Company, whose dedication and sacrifices have made our progress possible. The
compilation of testimonies and stories, in the form of a video, illustrated the contributions of these pioneers, allowing everyone to better appreciate their hard work, and the legacy
they have left behind. As Isaac Newton once said, ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ This quote poignantly describes the mission undertaken by every batch of Boys who pass through the ranks of the Company. They strive to build on the legacy of our pioneers, taking the Company to greater heights each year.
Over the past 25 years, the Raffles Institution Boys’ Brigade has benefitted much from the works of our pioneers. As we continue to write 60th’s story for the next 25 years, we have
much to be thankful for, much to strive for, and much to look forward to!