RAFVR Venerable Bede Church Lads Brigade Presentation Trophy
Another absolutely unique one off item in the form of a hallmarked silver miniature cup, mounted on a hardwood base and with engraved plaques to all sides. The one to the front reads 'Presented by Cadet Cowling RAFVR (Late Corporal of Venerable Bede C. L. B) to be awarded annually to the Smartest C. L. B Lad'. Circular silver plaques have then been mounted around the base with the earliest being awarded to Private E. Worsley in 1943 and the last to Private T. Spaven in 1953. Every year in between is also detailed with the exception of the disc for 1949 that is AWOL! Clearly this was an important and treasured trophy, with the cup being made from silver with the hallmarks indicating it wasmanufactured by H. J. Cooper & Co Ltd, who operated from Thavies Inn, Holborn Circus, London from around 1890 to the 1930's. The date stamp on the cup is an ornate 'P' indicating it was manufacturers in 1930.
Research indicates 'The Venerable Bede' was a monk lived in the 7th & 8thcentury and is widely regarded as the greatest of all the Anglo-Saxon scholars. In 682, Bede moved to the monastery at Jarrow, where he lived until his death in 735. His bones have been in Durham Cathedral since 1022, having been brought from Jarrow by a monk called Alfred who had them buried alongside Cuthbert's relics, where they remained until they were moved to the Cathedral's Galilee Chapel in the 14th century. The 'CLB' on the plaque refers to the 'Church Lads Brigade', a Christian youth organisation founded in 1891 and became the first scout group incorporated in the world in 1909. The Church Lads Brigade movement set out to instruct young men in discipline, morality and physical training and instil the values of the wider citizen by social and religious training, based on the religion of the Christian faith and the teaching of the Church of England. The discipline and hierarchy was based on military standards. During WWI, at the age of 18, the lads were drafted into the Army, and it is estimated that around 50,000 Brigade Lads served in the First World War and of these 24 from the Church Lads' Brigade were awarded the Victoria Cross. In WWII Cadets performed important duties on the Home Front such as fire-watching, guarding reservoirs and other strategic locations and over 250,000 former CLB members served in HM Forces during the war, with Cadet N. Cowling, who presented this award, being one of the many, serving with the RAF Volunteer Reserve.
A full list of 'The Smartest lad's to whom this was awarded annually is :Pte E. Worsley 1943, Pte J. Thompson 1944, Pte E. Blackburn 1945, Pte G. Rhodes1946, PteL. Carlisle 1947, Pte G. Glover1948, Pte E. Worley 1950, Pte S. Jenkins 1951 and Pte E. Worley wins it again in 1952! The recipient in 1949 is unknown due to the missing plaque. In terms of location we have
located a Venerable Bede Church of England Secondary School in Sunderland and whilst we stand to be corrected have assumed this Church Lads Brigade would have been based in the same area. The cup shows minor age related wear whilst the plastic (Bakelite?) base has a couple hairline cracks in it, but are hardly visible when on display and possibly caused when it was originally screwed to the base. The cup, including its plastic stand, is just over 3" tall (8 cm) but measured from the hardwood mount it stands a fraction over 4" (10.5 cm).