Orange Order plans new £1m student centre in memory of late grand secretary Nelson
The Orange Order is planning to create a student centre in Belfast as part of a £1m initiative in memory of its former grand secretary Drew Nelson.
The institution revealed that it intended to expand its current student provision in the university area of the city, which is to include a Drew Nelson Centre that will provide meeting space and accommodation for student members.
It is also envisaged that a development officer will provide careers advice and guidance to young people across Northern Ireland as well as the border counties.
Details of the ambitious Drew Nelson Legacy Project were unveiled at a gala dinner in Co Tyrone last night.
Family, friends and peers of the senior Orangeman were told of plans to recognise the contribution of one of its most high-profile members, while benefiting the next generation.
Making the announcement, grand master Edward Stevenson described his late friend and colleague as the "epitome" of Orangeism.
"Empowering young people was a key aspect of Drew Nelson's work within our wider Orange family," he said.
"He continually reinforced the importance of encouraging young people by building capacity and creating an enthusiastic, motivated and confident core of Orange advocates and community leaders."
Mr Stevenson confirmed that the project would be the designated recipient of the grand master's charity appeal for the coming year.
Previous appeals have raised substantial funds for, among others, Action Cancer, Help for Heroes, Kidney Research and the Christian Institute.
Mr Nelson died last year after a short battle with cancer at the age of 60.
The Dromore solicitor served as grand secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland for 12 years.
He was first elected in December 2004.
During his period of office he was part of Orange delegations which met senior political and civic figures, including former Irish President Mary McAleese leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady.
Viewed as a strategist, he lobbied extensively on behalf of the institution, including at Stormont and at Westminster, as well as travelling further afield to promote and represent Orangeism.
In 2012 he made an address to the Irish Senate in Dublin.
For more details on how to donate to the Drew Nelson Legacy Project, contact Schomberg House on 028 9070 1122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org