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    If pop music is the first thing that comes into your head when you think about the British Isles, you need to read the following. The area contains only 2 percent of the world’s population, but once ruled the biggest empire in history. And Church members here have established an empire of their own. Here are some bits ‘n’ bobs (odds and ends) about life in Britain.

    [Life in Britain]

    Getting Geographic

    Great Britain, or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as it is officially called, is really four countries united under one government. They are Northern Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland.

    The Republic of Ireland (Eire), which shares a separate island with Northern Ireland, has its own government and is independent of the rest. It is also part of the British Isles.

    There are eight missions in the area and one temple, near London. Youth from Scotland make a 900-mile temple trip once a year to do baptisms.

    The majority of the Church members live in or near the big towns like London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast. Though some have to travel farther, many members live within an eight-or nine-mile radius of the meetinghouse.

    Youth Orientation

    There was a time 20 or 30 years ago when most of the youth in the British Isles came from nonmember families. Today, most youth have at least one LDS parent. Youth programmes in stakes and wards vary. Some units have as many as thirty young people; others have only two or three at any given time. The average size of a seminary class is about seven, and most of them meet once a week, with home-study lessons in between.

    Most members of the same ward or branch do not live very close to each other and don’t usually attend the same school, so the only time they get to see each other is at Church meetings. Few schools have more than six LDS students attending them at once. Far more have fewer.


    British youth look forward to stake or area activities, since it gives them a long-awaited chance to get together with LDS peers. Like almost everywhere else in the Church, dances and service projects are common. Many times the youth activities include young adults as well.

    Another reason Church activities are so popular is that in many areas, social life revolves around pubs. Although some pubs are somewhat family oriented, it’s a relief for youth to have activities where LDS standards are maintained. Most non-LDS youth smoke and/or drink. It’s the same at dances—dancing is a popular activity, but many of the local discos (clubs) don’t have the best atmosphere, so Church dances are always anticipated.

    Also, British youth look forward to Young Women camps, Aaronic Priesthood camps, Super Saturday activities, stake speech festivals, team sports, and other events like athletics, road shows, and music festivals, to name a few.


    Compulsory education lasts from ages 5–16. Then GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams are held. For many students, that’s the end of school. Advanced levels, or A-levels, are increasingly popular. They offer two more years of secondary education, to prepare students either for a trade or (if marks are high enough) university.

    School recreational programmes are limited. Proms (a formal dance in American high schools) don’t exist. Sports, though popular, are low-key compared to America. Graduation ceremonies are for colleges and universities.

    Students study a lot—14- and 15-year-olds expect two to three hours of homework a day; 17- and 18-year-olds often have four to five hours. Although some credit may be given for classwork, grades depend largely on exams covering years of study. Students sit exams (take finals) over a period of days or weeks. One student we talked to sat a dozen exams, each lasting from one and a half to three hours.

    Tidying the Thames

    A group from the Wandsworth England Stake, including many teens, spent four hours racing low tide on a 300-yard stretch of beach to collect four-and-a-half tons of debris from the Thames River. “Voluntary assistance such as this makes a real difference,” said Captain Peter Steen of the Port of London Authority.

    Head of the Class

    Being Head Girl (which is similar to student-body president) means a lot to Laura Gilmour of Lochwinoch, Renfrewshire, Scotland. “It’s not the easiest thing I have ever done,” she says. “There are a lot of activities and seminars to help organise, but I really enjoy doing it.”

    In addition to leadership responsibilities, Laura keeps up with her seminary studies, is learning violin, bass guitar, and attends numerous science-oriented conferences.

    His Goal: A Mission

    Those who know football (soccer) say 12-year-old Owen Redmond could be one of the best Dublin, Ireland, has ever seen. Scouts are already coming to Owen’s games. Within a few years he could be offered a chance to play in a professional club’s reserve league. But even that won’t interfere with one plan he has.

    “I won’t miss out on my mission, no matter where I am. If a mission interferes with my football, I’ll just go anyway. It will work out as long as I keep the Church before anything else.”

    Romanian Aid

    When young women of the Swansea First Ward, Merthyr Tydfil Wales Stake, saw pictures of people starving in Romania, they wanted to help.

    So they went to local businesses and asked for donations—not just money, but also products and services, for an auction at the ward house. It seemed everyone in town came, and money went to buy much-needed food, medicine, and clothing.

    Our Way, Your Way

    Here is a list of British and American terms compiled by youth throughout the British Isles.







    french fries


    potato chips

    ice lollies





    fruit drink





    silly, nutty


    pacifier, binky

    lie in

    sleep in





    cramming (for a test)

    Clothing and Appearance



    jumper, pullover





    gym shoes

    Getting Around


    drug store








    shopping cart

    zebra crossing







    The Play’s the Thing

    “It was a stake play, but it was a missionary play as well,” said Simon Noble, 17, of the Holywood Road Ward, explaining why youth in the Belfast Northern Ireland Stake were so excited to be involved in their stake production. “It was all about the plan of salvation, and we invited non-LDS friends to come and enjoy a night of theatre and learn about what we believe,” he said.

    “My own testimony was strengthened, too,” said Paul Curran, 15, of the Bangor Ward. “We kept rehearsing the lines, and as we did, I kept thinking about how much it means to know the truth.”

    Ruby May Silcock, 18, also of the Bangor Ward, said the play helped her learn about teamwork. “We all had to cooperate and work together,” she said. “It took a lot of people skills.”

    Saints and friends alike enjoyed the music, the acting, the jokes, and the message.

    We Don’t Care How You Spell, As Long As You Write

    The way you spell some words may depend on which side of the ocean you live on. Is it center or centre? Colour or color? Theater or theatre? Cheque or check? Tire or tyre?

    But look at some of the most important words we English-speaking Saints have completely in common: spirit, church, testimony, faith. And look at some of the experiences shared by LDS teens everywhere: seeking acceptance, battling peer pressure, gaining a testimony, and generally coming face to face with some of life’s biggest decisions.

    One of the most important reasons for the New Era’s existence is that we help our readers strengthen and encourage each other. The New Era thrives on contributions from its readers—articles, personal experiences, letters, Q&A answers, Scripture Lifelines, inspiring fiction and poetry.

    The New Era needs, wants, seeks and desires the contributions from readers all over the world. There! Could we say it any more plainly?

    Still-life photography by Matt Reier

    Once a week, home-study seminary students in the Enfield Ward, London England Hyde Park Stake, gather for a lesson prior to Mutual activities.

    “Learn wisdom in thy youth” (Alma 37:35–37) is the favourite scripture of Kristy Thomas, 15, of Holly Bush, Wales.

    Debbie Sloan, 12, (front) and classmates in school uniforms worn daily at Hazelwood Integrated College, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

    “One thing I am aware of is everyone is now watching everything I do. There are only six Mormons in our school of 1,500, so we really stick out, and now that I’m Head Girl it’s even more obvious. But I enjoy the challenge of being the first LDS student to hold that position, and I hope I am able to live up to the responsibility.”

    “Everybody in the Church knows about the plan of salvation,” said Carolyn Jess, 13, of the Holywood Road Ward. “But inviting our friends outside of the Church to see a play about it gave us a chance to share that knowledge.”