Trio aim to walk 38 miles in one day in memory of Orangeman Drew Nelson

On what would have been the 65th birthday of the Orange Order stalwart Drew Nelson, three men who he influenced are setting off on a fundraising challenge in his memory.

Jonathan Mattison, Keith Harbinson and Jonathan Stevenson who will be walking 38 miles on what would have been Drew Nelson's 65th birthday. Picture by David Scott.
Jonathan Mattison, Keith Harbinson and Jonathan Stevenson who will be walking 38 miles on what would have been Drew Nelson's 65th birthday. Picture by David Scott.

The three friends – Jonathan Stevenson, Jonathan Mattison and Keith Harbinson – will be walking a 38-mile journey from Sloan’s House in Loughgall to Schomberg House in Belfast on August 3 – the two sites of the Orange Order’s Museum of Orange Heritage.

Jonathan Mattison, who is curator of the museum at Schomberg House, said: “Those who knew Drew always recall his boundless energy and enthusiasm to better the Orange family and the key roles he had in the creation and delivery of a wide variety of projects – promoting things such as capacity building and leadership development as well as facility improvement and community confidence.”

Following Drew’s untimely passing in 2016 after a short illness, the sense of loss was deeply felt in many quarters, not least within the Orange Order, having served as Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland for 12 years.

In 2017, the Orange Order launched the Drew Nelson Legacy Project, focused on recognising his immense contribution and preserving his legacy by continuing his work preparing the next generation of community leaders.

Jonathan said: “All three of us would have met through various projects that Drew started.

“We’re walking between two big signature projects that Drew was involved in – Sloan’s House and Schomberg House.

“We’ll be starting at about 5.30 in the morning and finishing at 10 o’clock at night.”

Jonathan said: “There’s a nervousness, none of the three of us would really be involved in regular sport.

“If you look at the photo (above) you can see that two of us would not be elite athletes, put it that way. When we mentioned it to family and friends there was a degree of ‘really?’

“We’re gradually building up our practice walks and we’re hoping that adrenaline will get us through to the finish on the day.”

Jonathan Stevenson said: “Drew was immensely proud of the two museums and we thought a walk between the two would be a fitting way to honour him and raise some money to help support his legacy project.

“We would love for everyone to follow us on social media and join in the venture and the banter with us along the way and to donate what they can to help us to raise money for this very worthy cause.”

To follow and support the trio find them on Facebook @sloanshouse2schomberg or to donate, go to

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Alistair Bushe