Wells calls for permanent tribute to Orange leader Drew Nelson

MLA Jim Wells has suggested naming a scholarship or building after Drew Nelson, who died on Monday at the age of 60
MLA Jim Wells has suggested naming a scholarship or building after Drew Nelson, who died on Monday at the age of 60

A permanent tribute would be a fitting way to ensure Drew Nelson’s contribution to the Orange Order and PUL community is never forgotten.

Those are the views of a long-time friend of Mr Nelson, DUP MLA Jim Wells.

He suggested naming a scholarship or a building after Mr Nelson, though added that any permanent memorial to this humble gentleman would need to be in keeping with his family’s wishes.

Mr Wells and Mr Nelson became firm friends as students at Queen’s University, a friendship that was sadly cut short after 41 years.

The DUP Assembly member said: “We hit it off immediately at university even though Drew had gone to the dark side with the Ulster Unionists and I’d seen the light with the DUP.”

Living close by in Lurgan and Dromore, Mr Wells and Mr Nelson continued their friendship outside university.

“Drew was my friend and also my first and only solicitor,” said Mr Wells.

He added: “It was a privilege to have known him. There will never be another Drew Nelson. He’s irreplaceable. As a man with few ties he was able to devote his life to the Orange Order and PUL community.

“It would be a real pity if we let the passing of such an influential person go by without a permanent memorial.

“Drew didn’t like the limelight so I’m not suggesting a statue. That wouldn’t be him.

“Something like a scholarship might be an idea. It could be awarded to a young person who is furthering the aims of Orangeism or the PUL community.”

Another of Mr Wells’ suggestions was to name a building after Mr Nelson, in the same way as the Museum of Orange Heritage is called Schomberg House.

“Whatever we do we must make sure this great man is not forgotten,” he said.