The Orange Community Awards evening for 2009 was held in Cookstown on Saturday night in the hall of 1st Presbyterian Church. The categories included (1) best charity fundraising lodge (2) individual community involvement (3) special merit award (4) chaplain’s award for Christian witness in the community (5) youth development award (6) Orange Standard award (7) best new banner (8) best banner painter and (9) Grand Master’s achievement award.
The four banners that were nominated were all painted by William Magowan of Garvagh and the winner was the new banner for Ormeau True Blues LOL990 in South Belfast. The front depicts Ballynafeigh Orange Hall and the back has a picture of Martin Luther. Another of the nominated banners was that of Thiepval Memorial LOL 1005 in Convoy and it has a traditional picture of the Battle of the Somme on one side. The other side shows the lodge returning from its first Twelfth in 1919 led by four pipers. William was one of the Northern Ireland delegation to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington in 2007.
The winner of the chaplain’s award was Rev Nigel Gould, minister of Mountnorris and Tullyvallen Presbyterian Churches, who introduced the ‘Christianity Explored’ course in local Orange halls, and the Grand Master’s achievement award went to Rev Gerald Sproule, who joined the Orange Institution in Dublin in 1945.
Speaking at the end of the evening, I congratulated the winners and commended their effort, commitment and dedication. I also pointed that Orangeism is most successful when its members are embedded in their communities and those who were nominated for awards were all good examples to us. Not only were they deeply involved in their lodges but also in the wider community through their work in areas such as churches, youth organisations, charitable and sports organisations and public life.