AN Olympic medallist – and Orangeman – has been recognised for his sporting achievement at this year’s Orange Community Awards.
Coleraine rower Alan Campbell received the esteemed Grand Master’s Award at the annual awards ceremony held in Londonderry on Saturday night, in recognition of his bronze medal success at London 2012.
The oarsman, 29, was just one of a large number of individuals and Lodges to be formally acknowledged by the Loyal Institution for their community outreach and achievements over the past 12 months.
Addressing attendees at the Waterside Theatre via a video message from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – where he is currently in training for the 2016 Olympics – Mr Campbell said he was humbled by the award.
The Grove LOL 648 member said: “It is a great honour to receive this award. The Grand Master’s prize is very, very special and I don’t take it lightly.
“In part, I do have to thank the support I’ve had from my own Lodge in Garvagh, my wife, Juliette, and my mum and dad.”
He added: “I hope with your continued support through to Rio 2016, I’ll not only bring home gold to Coleraine and Northern Ireland – but also for the Orange Order.”
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson – who personally nominated the sportsman – presented the award to Alan’s parents, William and Jenny.
Paying tribute to the rower, Mr Stevenson said: “We in the Orange Institution were rightly proud to witness one of our own members excel at the highest level on the world stage. Alan’s heroic feat, coming after a rigorous and demanding training schedule, was an inspiration to all of us.”
“Alan is not only a fine ambassador for the Orange Order but also Northern Ireland as a whole.”
The Grand Master hailed the achievements of all nominees at this year’s awards.
He said: “The purpose of the Community Awards is to formally recognise those unassuming Orangemen and women – the ‘unsung heroes’ – for the sterling work they do in the wider community, often quietly under the radar.
“While victors were declared in each of the designated categories, all of the nominees were winners in their own right and are fully deserving of our admiration.
“I would like to personally congratulate each and every one of them for being standard bearers for the Institution as well as in their own communities.”
Other prize winners at ‘The Grands’ included the members of Randalstown District LOL 22, who claimed the Best Charity Fundraising Lodge title.
Last year, South Antrim brethren presented £13,000 to various military benevolent charities by producing a commemorative badge in memory of two soldiers (Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar) murdered by dissident republicans outside Massereene Barracks, Antrim, in 2009.
Previously, Randalstown District presented a cheque for £15,000 to the Royal Engineers Association.
One of the most keenly contested awards was the Outstanding Community Leadership category which was jointly won this year by Orangemen Gary Wilson and Trevor Lockhart.
Both men were nominated for their dedication and commitment to the Institution and wider community.
Mr Wilson, from Fermanagh, was the main organiser of the world record banner parade held last July in the lakeland county to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant. An unprecedented 420 banners, representing Lodges across the Province and beyond, were paraded through the village of Kesh.
The Dromard LOL 284 member was also instrumental in arranging a successful re-enactment of Sir Edward Carson’s 1912 visit to Enniskillen in September.
Mr Lockhart, from Dungannon, received equal recognition for the pivotal role he played in the formation and ongoing development of the local Bawn Development Association.
The Tyrone Orangeman – who has missed only one Lodge meeting in over 40 years as a member of the Institution – was actively involved in sourcing and applying for funding to develop a community hall in the area.
The Best New Banner Award went to Drumlough Heroes LOL 153 (Rathfriland) for its unique tribute marking the centenary of the Titanic tragedy.
Their new bannerette was painted in honour of a Past Master of the Lodge – Thomas Rowan Morrow – who was the only third class passenger from Ulster to perish onboard the famous vessel in 1912.
All seven short-listed banners were painted by local artist William Magowan, who personally received the Banner Painter Award.
Other prizes presented at the event – now in its eighth year – included the Individual and Lodge Community Involvement awards, the Chaplains Award and Special Merit awards among others.
City of Londonderry Grand Master, James Hetherington, welcomed members of the Institution to the awards ceremony in a landmark year for the north west.
He said: “2013 marks an exciting and important year in the city of Londonderry when the first ever UK City of Culture is celebrated. We are determined that the Orange culture will be celebrated and showcased throughout the coming months, with this awards ceremony being the first of a number of events planned over the coming months.”
As part of the City of Culture programme, Londonderry will host a Twelfth demonstration in July.
Notes to Editor:
FULL LIST OF WINNERS 2013
Grand Master’s Award
Alan Campbell, Grove LOL 648
Best Charity Fundraising Lodge
Winner – Randalstown District LOL 22
Runner-up – Newtownards Ex-servicemen LOL 1952
Outstanding Community Leadership
Joint Winner – Gary Wilson, Dromard LOL 284
Joint Winner – Trevor Lockhart, WJ Marshall Memorial LOL 848
Runner-up – Alan Elliott, McKinley LOL 1539
Individual Community Involvement
Winner – John Thompson, Killultagh LOL 147
Runner-up – Gary Wilson, Dromard LOL 284
Lodge Community Involvement
Lurgaross Orange Heroes LOL 620
Best New Banner
Winner – Drumlough Heroes LOL 153
Joint Runner-up – Loughries True Blues LOL 1948
Joint Runner-up – Cranfield Single Star LOL 907
Banner Painter Award
Rev Nigel Reid, Glentimon Sons of William LOL 386
Orange Standard Award
Gerald Topping, LOL 99
Youth Development Award
Gary Hutchinson, Mullabrack Hearts of Steel LOL 1406
Special Merit Award
Winner – Ivan Buchanan, Barron LOL 627
Winner – Gavin Hunter, Magherknock LOL 703
Winner – Rita McCutcheon, Tempo Guiding Star WLOL 210
Musician’s Merit (Group)
Brookeborough Flute Band
Musician’s Merit (Individual)
Winner – Gareth McLees, Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band
Runner-up – Keith Little, Markethill Fiddle Orchestra