Orangeman dedicates top award to late wife

Tandragee man Barry Williamson won the Grand Master's Award
Tandragee man Barry Williamson won the Grand Master's Award

An “inspirational” Orangeman who has devoted himself to raising awareness of blood cancer, after experiencing a personal tragedy, has been recognised by the institution.

Barry Williamson, from Tandragee, was the recipient of the Grand Master’s Award at this year’s Orange Community Awards, held in Lisburn yesterday evening.

Deputy grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Harold Henning, presents the Grand Master's Award to Barry Williamson at last night's annual community awards

Deputy grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Harold Henning, presents the Grand Master's Award to Barry Williamson at last night's annual community awards

The 33-year-old electrician has raised nearly £60,000 for Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI following the death of his wife Alison last year. She had been diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer.

Devoting his free time to Alison’s memory, the father-of-two committed himself to various fundraising initiatives, including climbing the four highest mountains in the UK in 48 hours last autumn.

Barry’s dedication recently resulted in the charity, in conjunction with Queen’s University, being able to announce funding for the ‘Alison Williamson PhD Studentship’ for research into blood cancers.

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson paid tribute to Barry’s “humbling devotion and selflessness” in such tragic circumstances.

He said: “It is impossible not to be deeply touched by Barry’s story.

“Despite his personal grief and trauma, he has displayed outstanding grace, generosity and commitment; giving of his time tirelessly to help others in memory of his late wife.

“His efforts are truly inspirational and provide a fitting tribute to Alison.”

Commenting after receiving his award, Mr Williamson said: “I cannot express how humbled and honoured I feel to be awarded this prestigious accolade. I feel unworthy of it compared to those who have received it in previous years.

“I wish to express appreciation to my own private lodge, W.S Bennett’s Volunteers Carricklongfield LOL 748, and to every single person who has supported me and the children.

“I will endeavour to keep on fundraising for those who have fought and won, for those who have fought and lost, and in support of all who are still fighting that hopefully a cure will be found for these dreaded illnesses.”

“I know Alison would be so proud of what we have achieved and I dedicate this award to her memory.”

Barry received his award from the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Harold Henning.

He was just one of many individuals, as well as lodges and musicians, to be acknowledged for their community work and achievements over the past 12 months.

WINNERS 2017:

Grand Master’s Award

Barry Williamson, Carricklongfield LOL 748

Best New Banner

Ballyrea LOL 309

Sporting Achievement

Russell White, Sterritt Memorial LOL 257

Zak Hanna, Upper Crossgare LOL 1608

Adam Smyth, St Thomas Temperance LOL 410

Individual Community Involvement

James Donaldson, Orangefield LOL 564

Raymond Spiers, Cregagh Defenders LOL 1588

Lodge Community Involvement

Kinallen Purple Star LOL 247

Lodge Membership Increase

Ballynadrentagh LOL 1059

Youth Development

Matthew Gray, Ulster Covenant Memorial LOL 1984

Band of the Year

Drumderg Flute Band

Ballylone Concert Flute Band

Individual Musician’s Award

Geoffrey Dickson, Kinallen Purple Star LOL 247