A hugely successful Irish League manager has spoken of his “immense” gratitude after being honoured by the Orange Order.
Linfield legend and Orangeman David Jeffrey on Friday night received the Grand Master’s Award at the institution’s annual Orange Community Awards.
The awards were staged in Lisburn’s Island Arts Centre, and saw a raft of individual members, plus bands and lodges, receiving accolades.
Mr Jeffrey, 53 and from Glengormley in Newtownabbey, stepped down as Linfield boss in 2014.
Last year’s winner of the award was William Wright of Wrightbus.
The year before that the accolade went to Walter Love, the BBC broadcaster known for commentating on the Twelfth. He is the only non-member of the Order to have won the award in its 11-year history.
Grand Master Edward Stevenson said: “Having won a remarkable 31 trophies during his 17-year tenure with Linfield, David’s managerial record is quite extraordinary.
“His proven leadership and motivational credentials, honed during his distinguished playing career which included representing Manchester United at youth level and the Irish League, are a benchmark and inspiring example for those involved in coaching in the local game and also further afield.
“David’s football achievements are all the more impressive given his trophy-laden career to date has been accomplished whilst employed as a full-time senior social worker.
“Whether it is enhancing people’s welfare in the community or on the sports pitch, David is a role model and is a more than deserving recipient of this award.”
Mr Jeffrey said: “I’m very proud and privileged to receive this award.
“To be recognised by the Orange Institution and the Grand Master personally is a tremendous honour.
“I am extremely humbled and immensely grateful to be acknowledged with such a prestigious accolade.”
Among other winners at ‘The Grands’ (as they are colloquially known among members) were Ballindarragh LOL 689, Co Fermanagh, who scooped an award for banner artwork which the Order described as “an artistic portrayal of an UDR patrol coming under attack from IRA terrorists near Ballagh Cross in 1974”.
None of the soldiers were seriously injured in the incident, and five of the six members attended the banner unfurling last year.
Mr Stevenson paid tribute to all winners and nominees, dubbing them “standard bearers for the Institution as well as in their own communities”.
ALL THE AWARD WINNERS
Best New Banner: Ballindarragh LOL 689
Best Banner Painter: William Magowan
Sporting Excellence: Adam Hylands
Individual Community Involvement: Winner: Alan McCormick, LOL 1924; Joint Runners-up: Maynard Hanna, LOL 1943; Conrad Clarke, LOL 222
Lodge Community Involvement: Orange Buddies’, Banbridge District LOL No 7
Lodge Membership Increase: Richhill True Blues LOL 665
Exceptional Achievement: Annahoe District Junior Lodge JLOL 286
Musicians’ Merit (Group): Omagh Protestant Boys Melody Flute
Musicians’ Merit (Individual): Wilby Hanna, Upper Crossgare Pipe Band
Youth Development: Allister Erskine, Roughan LOL 103