North Antrim Orangeman William Johnston has been an active member of Bushside LOL 923 for over 50 years. He first joined in April 1971 and was elected as Worshipful Master on 6th September 1982.
He has served his lodge with distinction during this time, and as master for over 40 years.
Mr Johnston has oversaw a lot of changes at the Kerr-Smiley Orange Hall, members have come and gone in his time, some have sadly passed away, but William has been a constant. Some notable achievements during these years include the renovation of the Kerr-Smiley Orange Hall in 1985 to provide a toilet block, the unfurling of the Lodges last new banner in 1993, electrical work during the early 2000’s and the major renovation works under took by LOL 923 from 2016 – 2019 to fully rebuild and modernise the Kerur-Smiley Orange Hall. In 2024, the lodge will unfurl and dedicate a new banner, and this will mark another milestone for the stalwart Orangeman.
William’s dedication and work ethic over several years had not gone unnoticed, and it wasn’t long until he was serving as District Master of Ballycastle District No.23. During his term he faced some of the most challenging times ever seen with regional wide parading disputes happening across Northern Ireland as tensions at Drumcree heightened. William’s involvement in Ballycastle District Lodge thrusted him into the middle of the controversial Ballycastle 12th July parade. He overcame a multitude of problems and eventually helped to secure a settlement that meant the overwhelming majority on both sides of the dispute were happy with the outcome. His actions along with others within the District Lodge at this time, secured the 12th July demonstration in Ballycastle for the foreseeable future.
On Monday 4th September, the members of Bushside LOL 923 along with some visiting Orangemen, including Ulster Unionist MLA for North Antrim Robin Swann, marked the occasion with multiple tokens of appreciation being presented to Mr Johnston to mark 40 years as Worshipful Master of Bushside Orange Lodge.
William was presented with an engraved pen from his former Lodge Secretary and former District Secretary Hugh Stewart. Robin Swann then presented a framed certificate and engraved pocket watch on behalf of LOL 923 officers and members.
Current Secretary Aaron Stewart noted that William Johnston is widely regarded as an Orangeman of the highest quality in every possible way. “Willie is one of the most decent men you’ll ever meet, he’s been Master since before I was born, an ardent church attender, involved in charitable causes and he would do anything he could to help you regardless of your background. Not only is he a dedicated member of the Loyal Orange Institution, but a committed member of the Apprentice Boys Of Derry at the Bushside and the Royal Black Institution in Stranocum. Willie was the driving force behind the establishment of Dalriada Credit Union based in the Orange Hall and he has been a lifelong member of the Ulster Unionist Party in North Antrim. In his spare time I think he’s a farming contractor.”