Twelfth ‘watching brief’ for Rev Mervyn Gibson after health scare

On the mend after a pre-Twelfth health scare, the Orange Order’s grand secretary has been working hard behind the scenes to ensure everything goes smoothly on the big day.

By Mark Rainey
Saturday, 10th July 2021, 8:20 am
Rev Mervyn Gibson. 
Picture: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.
Rev Mervyn Gibson. Picture: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.

Rev Mervyn Gibson was found to have a potentially life-threatening blood clot in his leg while receiving physiotherapy and promptly admitted to hospital for emergency treatment.

However, he was discharged from hospital last Friday and spent much of this week preparing for the 100 parade Northern Ireland centenary Twelfth.

“I’ve still been active and also helping organise things, and talking to people, behind the scenes,” he said.

A Twelfth of July parade in Belfast parade making it's way through the city centre up Bedford Street. Photo: Jonathan Porter/Presseye

“I’ve spoken to the chief constable and the chief medical officer, and we met Jeffrey Donaldson yesterday, so I’ve still been able to take part in meetings, some of them Zoom meetings.

“While I won’t be able to walk, I will be taking a keen interest in all of the parades that are going on throughout the Province.

“I’ll also be liaising with the various districts, the PSNI and others, and hopefully it will be a quiet day.”

Rev Gibson, who still has daily hospital appointments, said he will “enjoy the colour and the spectacle” of the Belfast parade in the city centre as a ‘socially distanced’ spectator.

“Afterwards I will be spending the rest of the day with the family and then out for a meal somewhere. I should have been doing the service at the cenotaph but I’m not able to do that, so I’ll probably watch the parade from somewhere around Bedford Street.”

He added: “Last year was ‘Twelfth at Home,’ this year it’s ‘Twelfth Near You’ and next year will be Twelfth back to normal.

“The same numbers will be out but, because of Covid, they will be spread across the Province, and it will continue to be one of the major community festivals in Europe.”

Meanwhile, Royal Black preceptories in Portadown Tandragee and Markethill will be on parade in their towns on Tuesday, July 13.

The 19 Portadown district preceptories and bands will parade from Carleton Street Orange hall at noon. A service and wreath-lay ceremony will be held at the war memorial.

In Tandragee, the 12 district preceptories and bands will hold a mid-day parade, while in Markethill the 10 preceptories and bands will also parade.

The Scarva demonstration will not take place this year for the second year running due to the Covid pandemic.

July 13 is the only date on which the Portadown ,Tandragee and Markethill Royal Black districts parade. Unlike the others, they do not take part in the traditional ‘Last Saturday’ Black demonstrations.