IT'S the end of the era at Largs Boys' Brigade this season as captains Jim and Bridie Lamont embark on their final year in charge after 30 years of sure and stedfast service.

The Lamonts have won a number of glittering prizes for their good work over the decades, including the North Ayrshire Citizen of the Year and Largs Citizens of the Year prizes.

During their tenure, Mr Lamont has been captain and Mrs Lamont has been officer in charge of the younger sections.

Over the three decades they have worked with several hundred youngsters, supporting them, developing their team-working skills, encouraging them to work within the local community and building their sense of achievement and self-esteem.

Bridie and Jim started in 1988/89 and it was in 1993 that Jim took over as captain when Donald Skinner retired.

In 1995 Bridie took over the Anchor Boys and five years later became Juniors leader too.

Bridie said: "This session coming up is our 30th year and we are thinking about this being our final year.

"Recently, we have seen an increase in the boys from St Mary's Primary School joining, and we have also seen an increase in children from Fairlie."

Under the couple's dedicated direction, the company has picked up many big prizes over the years and is still going strong.

Its badminton team regularly competes in the national finals.

Jim said: "We have been to Northern Ireland and England a few times, and the year we won it was in Perth."

Bridie added: "We have around 40 children taking part in the badminton on a Tuesday night and we couldn't do it without badminton coach John Kent - he has been brilliant.

"The boys have been in the finals for 10 years, a great achievement.

"We would be lost without John as a tutor."

Jim and Bridie say they take great delight watching the young people progress through the ranks.

Jim said: “The pleasure we get comes from seeing the boys looking proud in their uniforms as they receive their badges at the end of season display.”

Bridie added: “It’s lovely to see a boy receiving his Queen’s Badge as a 17-year-old, having watched him grow up and come through the ranks.

"It is quite emotional for me as I have seen them since Primary 2 and they are now reaching 16/17 when they receive the Queen's Award."

The Lamonts experienced this with their own two sons, who were Queen’s Badge recipients as teenagers.

Jim added: "At one time Largs didn't have any Queen's Badge men, which is the highest award you can get in the Boys Brigade.

"There is a lot of work to do for it.

"Once you become a senior at 15, you have to do at least 30 hours community work, and 30 hours in the company between all the sections, and learn a range of new skills.

"A lot of the boys work in charity shops or old folks homes.

"We try and hammer it home that the Queen's Badge is a big thing on your CV and it can help you get a good job.

"It is a a very important thing and it's great to see the boys progressing."

Running a successful BB costs money and the couple have been adept at fundraising, with their latest venture seeing £30,000 collected to buy a new mini-bus which will benefit not just the boys but the community at large.

Bridie said: "It will be used widely by the community, and primary schools can also use it.

"We use it all the time, taking the boys to camp, and to all range of battalion events."