A memorial to members of the Orange Institution who paid the supreme sacrifice serving the Crown has been unveiled at the National Arboretum.
Senior representatives of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, including Grand Master Edward Stevenson, were in attendance at the dedication ceremony, held last weekend in Staffordshire.
The Orange tribute – the first of its kind at the UK’s year-round centre of Remembrance – was the brainchild of National Memorial LOL 1914, Scotland’s only lodge of special purpose.
The memorial takes the form of a lectern with a Bible, appropriately dressed with an Orange collarette. It is inscribed with the message: ‘This Memorial is Dedicated to God and erected to Joshua, in thanksgiving to all members of the Loyal Orange Institution who served and paid the supreme sacrifice in the service of their Country’.
The memorial was formally dedicated by the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, Jim McHarg.
Robert Cook, secretary of LOL 1914, described the unveiling as a “proud” moment for all those involved in the remembrance project.
Explaining the rationale of the initiative, he said the lodge’s primary purpose was to address the fact there was no memorial specific to members of the Orange Institution from across the British Commonwealth who gave their lives.
He said: “The memorial commemorates all members who have served their country and those who made the supreme sacrifice. We first came up with the idea in May 2014 and things went in motion from there. The lodge of special purpose opened in March 2016.
“Saturday’s dedication marks the culmination of a lot of hard work but is also another point in the ongoing process. The lodge will be responsible for the upkeep of the memorial within the site.”
Mr Cook expressed appreciation to not only the executive of the lodge, but also the Scottish Grand Lodge, the stonemason and Arboretum staff.
Over 100 members of the institution from across the UK paid their respects at the dedication ceremony. Among those who travelled from Northern Ireland were Deputy Grand Master, Harold Henning; Assistant Grand Master, Stuart Brooker; and Grand Lodge chief executive, Iain Carlisle.
The National Arboretum is recognised as the nation’s centre of thanksgiving and remembrance. It is part of the Royal British Legion’s family of charities and features over 300 memorials and 40,000 trees, many planted in memory of individual servicemen and women.