One of the Province’s leading business figures says he has been “humbled” by the decision of the Orange Order to grant him an award.
William Wright, the co-founder of Ballymena’s Wrightbus, was handed the accolade last night at the order’s Orange Community Awards in Lisburn.
The veteran Orangeman recieved the Grand Master’s Award in recognition of his business acumen and the contribution to the economic life of Co Antrim.
The Ahoghill-based Orangeman, aged 87, was among a raft of individuals being handed awards (see top right), and in a statement hailing his contributions Edward Stevenson, the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.
In a statement marking the occasion, Dr Wright said: “It was a big surprise for me to be honoured in this way by the Institution.
“I am truly humbled by the award which I see not only as recognition of my role in business, but also for my lodge.
“Given my long association with the Orange Order, I would like to dedicate this prize to all the members of Gracehill LOL 772 in Ahoghill.”
The origins of Wrightbus can be traced back to when Robert Wright, William’s father, set up a joinery shop in 1930s Ballymena and was called upon to build a van for the local Co-Op.
In 1946, Robert Wright Coachworks was set up along with William, who later took over the reins.
Today, he is still involved in the firm, which has grown to export products across the globe.
A member of the Orange Order for 70 years, he is also a CBE-recipient.
Mr Stevenson said: “From very humble beginnings, his engineering expertise in the public transport sector is now so well established and revered across the world, that buses bearing the famous Wrightbus logo are as customary in the Far East as they are in London.
“This award is a well-deserved recognition for William’s longstanding commercial and business prowess, as well as his contribution to the provision of employment in north Antrim and to the wider Northern Ireland economy over many decades.”
Among the other award recipients last night were members of the Bible and Crown Defenders LOL 423, Banbridge, who had donated close to £30,000 for Help for Heroes by undertaking a bizarre fundraising feat.
They had cycled from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall, accompanied by a Lambeg drum.
In addition, the Best New Banner Award went to Kircubbin Volunteers LOL 1900 for the lodge’s artistic tribute to past members marking the centenary of the outbreak of World War One.