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60 years and counting

Cliff Fowler still fighting the good fight

By Patrick Newhook/December 23, 2021

Ask almost anyone who was in it, the memories and friends made in the C.L.B. stays with you all your life.

For Clifford Fowler of Upper Gullies, that connection to the Church Lads Brigade is more than faces and scenes recalled from the dim past. That’s because Fowler has never left the organization since he joined it 60 years ago.

Fowler was recently accorded the 60 Year Gold Bar of Service for his contribution to the corps.

“I joined in 1961 when I was 11 years old,” said the now Capt. Fowler. “My older brother was into it and I wanted to get into it… At that time, at nighttime we never had a go place to go other than to the C.L.B., really, there were no hangouts. So, every Tuesday night we would go to the C.L.B.”

Fowler said the Church of England-affiliated youth organization teaches discipline and holds special events such as sports tournaments and weekend outings for its members. Members older than Fowler still talk fondly about the famous camping trips to what is now the Topsail soccer pitch. Back then it was a place to pitch tents. Mint Brook near Gambo became the go-to campground for C.L.B. members in Fowler’s time.

Bars of Service are given out to members after every five years of service. It’s a bar that goes on your original medals.

When Fowler received this latest one, he felt proud.

“Like I was on top of the world I guess,” said Fowler.

Sixty years is a long time to dedicate to an organization. Fowler stayed on because he made friends there and because he liked working with young people.

Fowler helped form Topsail company, where he welcomed in now CBS Fire Chief John Heffernan as a recruit, among others, and now works with Upper Gullies Company.

Looking back at his time with the organization, there’s a lot that he remembers and appreciates about the group. He especially likes the friendly sports competitions between the companies.

One of Fowler’s fellow captains, Sandy Dinham, said you can always rely on Fowler to be there.

“He’s a really nice man, he’s very friendly, he’s very helpful,” said Dinham. “If you need anything, he’s right there to help you with it and he’s very knowledgeable.”

Dinham has been a part of the same company as Fowler for 25 years. She thinks it’s wonderful that he received the medal and that it shows how dedicated he is.

“It’s amazing, I mean we salute him,” said Dinham. “That’s amazing to stay with an organization for that long. It’s well deserved.”

CBS councilor-at-large Rex Hillier paid tribute to Fowler at the December 7 public council meeting.

“In 1967, I joined Foxtrap Company and Cliff Fowler was there as a leader to welcome me,” said Hillier. “On behalf of myself, Fire Chief John Heffernan and all those he has impacted over 60 years, I’d like to thank Capt. Fowler for his time, wish him luck and continued success with the Church Lads Brigade.”

Mayor Darrin Bent agreed to write a letter of gratitude to Fowler on council’s behalf.

“Yes, 60 years of service to your community, there’s nothing that deserves recognition greater than that,” said Bent.

Fowler said that being a part of the Brigade has helped him throughout his life.

“The C.L.B. has done a lot for me as a person, I think it made me a better person,” said Fowler. “Like I say, we had no place to go at nighttime.”

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