Lodge Life: Orange feet in tandem on Strictly dance floor
Orangemen and women in Co Tyrone, along with their partners, have put their best foot forward on the dance floor in an innovative fundraising event.
Last weekend, over 700 people crammed into Omagh’s Silverbirch Hotel as the Institution conducted its very own version of popular TV show, Strictly Come Dancing.
Twelve couples, representing lodges from across the local district, dazzled the judging panel and a captive audience with a variety of dance moves, including jives, quick steps and waltz.
The competition raised much-needed funds for Omagh district, who were also delighted to donate a total of £5,000 towards the nominated charity, Marie Curie.
Main organiser and deputy district master, David Swann, hailed the efforts of all those who showcased their skills on the dance floor.
“The atmosphere was electric,” he said.
“All 12 couples were outstanding on the night and put on a fantastic show which will live long in the memory.”
Mr Swann maintained the event captured the imagination of lodges and the Orange fraternity across the local district and beyond.
“We set out to sell upwards of 500 tickets, but such was the interest, we ended up with 700 in attendance, and could have sold more.”
The senior Orangeman paid tribute to all of those who took part.
“Our couples practised for a total of 12-14 weeks from last autumn. Aided by a dance instructor, they all started from a baseline of zero as they had little experience.
“Regardless of the competition between lodges, everyone helped each other along the way. To their credit, there was no animosity and they supported one another.
“If anything, the exercise brought all 12 lodges closer together, and certainly raised our profile among younger members.”
The eventual winners, representing Mountfield LOL 674, with a maximum judges’ score of 40 were David Patterson and his wife-to-be, Katherine Willis.
Among the judges was deputy grand master, Harold Henning; who Mr Swann joked was the “toughest” on the competitors.
Meanwhile, the people’s winners, as voted by the audience, representing Killycurragh LOL 200 were Philip Ewing and his dancing partner, Ruth Swann.
Mr Swann confirmed given the unprecedented success of the dancing competition, organisers have provisionally booked another Strictly event for next year.
He also thanked members of the public, sponsors and private lodges for their support.