2020 Orange Community Awards
Updated: Mar 23
LIFETIME HONOUR FOR JOURNALIST AT ANNUAL AWARDS
A prominent journalist and author who has served the Orange Institution in a number of roles for more than 50 years, has been publicly recognised by the loyal order.
Billy Kennedy was the recipient of a special lifetime achievement award at this year’s Orange Community Awards, held in Lisburn on Saturday evening.
The Co Armagh Orangeman was just one of the many individuals, as well as lodges and musicians, to be formally acknowledged by the loyal order for their community work and achievements over the past 12 months at the annual showpiece event.
For Mr Kennedy, who lives in Tandragee but is originally from Bessbrook, involvement in the Orange Order has been a way of life.
He served as Secretary of Bessbrook Junior LOL No 202 for three years from 1956-59; Secretary of Bessbrook Purple Star LOL 959 for 52 years from 1962-2018; Secretary of Bessbrook District LOL No 11 for 52 years from 1967-2019; and was a Member of Co. Armagh Grand Orange Lodge for 52 years from 1967-2019.
Congratulating Mr Kennedy, Grand Master Edward Stevenson, said: “Billy personifies the many qualities of an Orangeman; his loyalty to the Institution and his willingness to play an active part in the running and life of his lodge and district are an inspiration to others. By setting such a fine example, Billy is a role model to his peers.
“The role of a secretary within a lodge and district has changed greatly over the years, but Billy kept pace and with over 50 years’ service as secretary of his lodge – Bessbrook Purple Star LOL 959 – and also as secretary of Bessbrook District No. 11.”
Mr Stevenson added: “Billy’s dedication extends beyond the Loyal Orders. He has been a journalist for 50 years, 46 of those years spent with the News Letter. He also has a long association with Linfield Football Club and has served the club as a director for many years and is now Honorary Vice-President.”
Receiving the award, Mr Kennedy said that for him, Orangeism was all about family tradition.
"My grandfather William John Kennedy was a prominent Newry Orangeman, a newspaper printer who was born on the Twelfth of July. My father Trevor was a member of Bessbrook Purple Star LOL 959 when I was growing up and he was District Treasurer in Bessbrook.
"LOL 959, with 50 members, is a family lodge with about four or five families making up the majority of the membership. At present, there are nine members of the Kennedy clan in the lodge.”
He added: "Our meetings are on the first Friday in the month are very much family reunions."
Other winners at ‘The Grands’ included Moneyrea Old Standard LOL 783, who claimed the lodge community involvement award. Last year, members took part in the Comber Soapbox Derby to raise money for Moneyrea Primary School. Their car was designed by a pupil of the school and was shaped and styled like the iconic Staedtler yellow and black pencil.
The highly competitive best new banner award went to Aghanloo True Blues LOL 656. They won the prize for their detailed banner showcasing the RAF at Limavady.
The Orangewoman of the Year award went to Ann Dickson, of South Belfast Women’s WLOL 17, in recognition of her work in the local community.
The Christian Outreach Award was claimed by Ballynahinch District LOL NO. 17 in recognition of their Gospel Mission in their local area.
Meanwhile, Roughan Silver Band, struck the right note with the judges by winning the band of the year award.
Mr Stevenson paid tribute to the winners and nominees in each of the respective categories.
He said: “I would like to personally congratulate each and every one of the winners for being standard bearers for the Institution, as well as in their own communities.”
Entertainment at this year’s event, held at the city’s Island Arts Centre, included Sollus Highland Dancers, Lisburn Young Defenders Flute Band, Coleraine Fife and Drum and soloist Stephen Anderson.
FULL LIST OF WINNERS 2020
Band of the Year 2020
Roughan Silver Band
Best New Banner Award 2020
Aghanloo True Blues LOL 656
Sporting Achievement Award 2020
Bro. Gareth Armstrong - Spa LOL 620
Individual Community Involvement Award 2020
Bro. Robert J. (Bobby) Hayes – Leslie Memorial LOL 206
Lodge Community Involvement Award 2020
Moneyrea Old Standard LOL 783
Lodge Membership Increase Award 2020
Annalong LOL 342 – Mourne District LOL No. 6
Individual Musicians Merit Award 2020
Bro. Robert Irvine – Legananny True Blues LOL 1455
Youth Development Award 2020
Bro. Alan Ross – Slatt LOL 475
Christian Outreach Award 2020
Ballynahinch District LOL No.17
Junior Grand Lodge Award 2020
Star of Lurgan JLOL 149
Junior Grand Lodge certificates
Castlederg JLOL 243
Manorcunningham JLOL 17
Hillsborough JLOL 55
Ballyronan District JLOL 81
Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland - Orangewoman of the Year 2020
Sister Ann Dickson – South Belfast Women's WLOL 17
Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland – Lodge Membership Increase Award 2020
Rev. Ussher Greer Memorial WLOL 41 - Banbridge
Grand Masters Award 2020
Worshipful Brother William (Billy) Kennedy – Bessbrook Purple Star LOL 959