The “Voice of the Twelfth” – BBC journalist Walter Love – has been honoured by the Orange Institution.
The respected commentator, 78, received the top gong – the Grand Master’s Award – at this year’s Orange Community Awards, held in Newtownabbey’s Theatre at the Mill on Saturday night.
He is the first person outside of the Institution to be recognised in this particular category.
Mr Love said the honour was “a big surprise”.
He added: “The BBC’s Twelfth coverage tries to describe and reflect the significance of these events for a general viewing audience.
“My role as a commentator is to help explain what’s happening on screen and to provide useful background information and context.
“I very much enjoy the challenge of live broadcasting and am always mindful that my words should match the pictures that viewers are seeing at home.”
Mr Love received his award from Grand Master Edward Stevenson, who said: “As well as being a highly respected broadcaster and a figurehead for local journalists, Walter’s dulcet tones behind the microphone on the biggest day in the Orange calendar have become as much a mandatory requirement to viewers as the sight and pageantry of the Twelfth itself.
“Walter’s knowledge, expertise and understanding of the history and significance of the Orange Order are unrivalled. His professionalism and enthusiasm is matched by his desire to portray an informative and compelling account of Twelfth proceedings to the large viewing audience.
“Walter is an institution in broadcasting and on behalf of the entire Orange family I thank him for his unique and valuable contribution to Twelfth proceedings for more than 20 years.”
Held annually, the Orange Community Awards seek to honour individuals, lodges and musicians for their community outreach and achievements over the previous 12 months.
Other prizewinners on Saturday night included the members of Mountjoy Faith Defenders LOL 750, who claimed the Best Charity Fundraising Lodge title.
Last year, the Tyrone brethren raised in excess of £11,000 for a number of local charities, including Care for Cancer and the Horizon West Children’s Hospice.
The Best New Banner award, a much-anticipated category at the event, went to Goldsprings of Comber LOL 1037 and their artistic portrayal of Oliver Cromwell.
Dr David Hume, Orange Order Director of Services, said: “The aim of the awards is to recognise and reward excellence, and we are delighted to have had such a fantastic venue as Theatre at the Mill in which to stage them.”