Banbridge District brethren shared in the limelight at this year’s Orange Community Awards, plaudits going to a number of local lodges and individuals.
Among them were two lodges who between them raised tens of thousands of pounds to help a sick little girl and boost the coffers of the charity ‘Help for Heroes’.
Banbridge’s Bible and Crown Defenders LOL 423 and the brethren of Clogher LOL 529, near Donaghcloney, shared the Best Charity Fundraising Lodge title at the recent awards ceremony, hosted this year at Lisburn’s Island Arts Centre.
The Banbridge Orangemen raised almost £30,000 for Help for Heroes; their effort included an “epic” cycle trip - with Lambeg Drum in tow - from John O’Groats to Lands End.
Joint winners Clogher collected funds for a lodge member’s sick granddaughter.
The money helped fund special treatment in America for the youngster, who was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer.
For his enthusiasm and commitment to that same ‘Hope for Eva’ campaign, the lodge’s Gareth Gribbon received a Special Merit Award from Orange Order Grand Secretary, and well-known Dromore man, Drew Nelson.
Also named among the individual awards were David Henning of Drumlough LOL 153 and Banbridge triathlete Russell White.
David, who represented Northern Ireland in clay pigeon shooting at last year’s Commonwealth Games, was named joint winner in the new Sporting Excellence Award category, while Russell, a member of LOL 257, who likewise competed in last year’s Games, was named runner-up.
The Lodge Membership Increase Award, meawhile, went to Banbridge-based No Surrender LOL 20, praised for innovative use of social media as part of its ongoing recruitment process. Elsewhere in the district, Gilford’s Ark of Safety LOL 1901 took up a new banner that earned it a commendation in the Best New Banner category.
Tne annual awards formally acknowledge many individuals, lodges and musicians for their community outreach and achievements over the previous 12 months.
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, paid tribute to the winners and nominees in all of the respective categories.
“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,” he said.