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Drew Nelson funeral: Orangemen pay respects to Grand Secretary

'Trailblazing' Grand Secretary described as Order's 'heartbeat'

Published 13/10/2016

The funeral of Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson wends its way to St John’s Church, Upper Kilwarlin, Hillsborough
The funeral of Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson wends its way to St John’s Church, Upper Kilwarlin, Hillsborough
UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt
The DUP's Brenda Hale
Minister for Communities Paul Givan
Tom Elliott
First Minister Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds of the DUP
SDLP’s Alex Attwood
Drew Nelson
The coffin of high profile Orangeman Drew Nelson makes its way to St John's Church, Hillsborough Co Down, during his funeral. PA
Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster (second right) during the funeral for high profile Orangeman Drew Nelson at St John's Church, Hillsborough Co Down. PA
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 13th October Funeral of the Orange Order's Grand Secretary Drew Nelson at St John's Parish Church, Kilwarlin, outside Hillsborough. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 13th October Funeral of the Orange Order's Grand Secretary Drew Nelson at St John's Parish Church, Kilwarlin, outside Hillsborough. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 13th October Funeral of the Orange Order's Grand Secretary Drew Nelson at St John's Parish Church, Kilwarlin, outside Hillsborough. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 13th October Funeral of the Orange Order's Grand Secretary Drew Nelson at St John's Parish Church, Kilwarlin, outside Hillsborough. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 13th October Funeral of the Orange Order's Grand Secretary Drew Nelson at St John's Parish Church, Kilwarlin, outside Hillsborough. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 13th October Funeral of the Orange Order's Grand Secretary Drew Nelson at St John's Parish Church, Kilwarlin, outside Hillsborough. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Pacemaker Press 13/10/2016 The Funeral of Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson, takes place in St JohnÕs Church, Upper Kilwarlin, off the Ballygowan Road, Hillsborough, Co Down, on Thursday. Hundreds of Orange men took part in procession on Ballyknock Road near his home. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 13/10/2016 The Funeral of Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson, takes place in St JohnÕs Church, Upper Kilwarlin, off the Ballygowan Road, Hillsborough, Co Down, on Thursday. Hundreds of Orange men took part in procession on Ballyknock Road near his home. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Drew Nelson in his local Orange hall at Listullycurran near Hillsborough
Pacemaker Press 13/10/2016 The Funeral of Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson, takes place in St JohnÕs Church, Upper Kilwarlin, off the Ballygowan Road, Hillsborough, Co Down, on Thursday. Hundreds of Orange men took part in procession on Ballyknock Road near his home. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 13/10/2016 The Funeral of Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson, takes place in St JohnÕs Church, Upper Kilwarlin, off the Ballygowan Road, Hillsborough, Co Down, on Thursday. Hundreds of Orange men took part in procession on Ballyknock Road near his home. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson
Pacemaker Press 13/10/2016 The Funeral of Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson, takes place in St JohnÕs Church, Upper Kilwarlin, off the Ballygowan Road, Hillsborough, Co Down, on Thursday. Hundreds of Orange men took part in procession on Ballyknock Road near his home. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 13/10/2016 The Funeral of Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson, takes place in St JohnÕs Church, Upper Kilwarlin, off the Ballygowan Road, Hillsborough, Co Down, on Thursday. Hundreds of Orange men took part in procession on Ballyknock Road near his home. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Drew Nelson attending a Twelfth parade

Hundreds of Orangemen have gather for the funeral of Drew Nelson, the Orange Order's Grand Secretary.

Mr Nelson (60) died on Monday morning after a short but brave battle with cancer.

He served as Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland for the past 12 years.

He was part of Orange delegations which met senior political and civic figures, including successive First Ministers and Secretary of States, US ambassadors, Taoiseach Edna Kenny, former Irish President Mary McAleese, the then leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, and the SDLP, among others.

The Order described Mr Nelson as its "heartbeat" and "perhaps its greatest ever advocate" demonstrating the impact the Dromore solicitor made during his time in his pivotal role.

Mr Nelson is survived by his mother Meta, his sister-in-law Janet and nephews Scott and Stuart.

He funeral service will take place on Thursday in St John's Parish Church, Kilwarlin, with interment afterwards in the adjoining churchyard.

More:

Arlene Foster leads tributes to Drew Nelson, as 'heartbeat' of Orangeism dies aged 60 from cancer

Drew Nelson: What they said  

Leading the tributes was the First Minister, Arlene Foster, who described him as a "towering figure" in Orangeism.

Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson described Mr Nelson as the heartbeat and perhaps the greatest advocate of the Orange Institution. He added: "Drew was a towering figure within the Orange fraternity, whose commitment and devotion to the principles of Orangeism are simply unrivalled. No other individual, over the course of the past decade, has done more to champion the cause of the Institution and its membership."

He said Mr Nelson's greatest legacy was the visit by Prince Charles to the birthplace of Orangeism, Loughgall, earlier this year.

Deputy Grand Master Harold Henning described Mr Nelson as the "engine room" of the Institution.

"No other Orangeman, of perhaps any generation, will ever match his motivation and drive to see the Institution succeed and flourish... Drew was a trailblazer for Orangeism, the like of which we will never see again," he said.

Arlene Foster added: "I have known Drew for many years. He was a dear friend and I, and many like me, will miss his wise counsel. He was a towering figure in the Orange Order, doing so much to contribute to its ideals and its reputation. His commitment to the principles of the organisation was something that was widely admired."

The Queen’s University law graduate was a solicitor for 35 years, with his own practice in Dromore, Co Down. He was also a former president of Dromore Chamber of Commerce.

Previously, he was District Master of Lower Iveagh District in Co Down. Drew was a member of Listullycurran LOL 616. He was also a member of the Royal Black Institution.

Mr Nelson was a part-time officer in the now disbanded UDR and was a member of the Ulster Unionist Party until taking up the post of Grand Secretary. He previously completed an army commission course at Sandhurst University.

As a UUP councillor from 1993 to 1997 and a former chair of Banbridge District Council, now part of the new Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.  And was chairman of the Orange Community Network up until his death.

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