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.
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.
Grand Master’s Award
Barry Williamson, Carricklongfield LOL 748
Best New Banner
Ballyrea LOL 309
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
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