North West shines in Community Awards

Members of the Orange Order in the north west, as well as an award-winning band, have been honours in this year’s Orange Community Awards.

Alyson McKnight, of Thiepval Memorial Pipe band took the Musician’s Merit Award for an individual, while Thiepval Memorial Pipe Band received the Musician’s Merit award for a group.

A member of the Orange Order, Sister McKnight joined the band at the age of just nine, and rose through the ranks to become Pipe Major in 2003. She led the band to becoming grade 3b world champions and also took the band to perform at the Moscow tattoo.

Alyson is the only female pipe major in Ireland and is also Worshipful Mistress of her private Lodge WLOL 163, as well as serving as District Mistress of Women’s District No. 1 in Londonderry.

Based in east Donegal, Thiepval Memorial Pipe Band was founded in 1905, and took it’s current name, Thiepval Memorial, after 1919 in honour of the many young men from the area who died at The Somme. In 2014 they won the ulster, all Ireland, Scottish, UK, British and World Championships.

The current PRO for City of Londonderry Grand Orange Lodge, and a past City Grand Master, Victor Wray, who also serves his home Lodge, LOL 1912, received a Special Merit Award for his membership and work with the Order.

Brother Wray has notched up over 50 years service in the Orange Institution and has held every office at Private Lodge and District Lodge level. He is also Past City Grand Master of City of Londonderry Grand Orange Lodge. In addition, Victor acted as project manager for the renovations to Britannia Hall and remains fully dedicated to promoting Orangeism 
in Londonderry.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, paid tribute 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.

Grand Lodge Director of Services, Dr David Hume, said the awards had once again highlighted the efforts of members of the Orange Order in many community fields.

“Recognition is well deserved not just for those who received awards but also for all those who were well-enough thought of to be nominated in the first place,” he said.