RATHFRILAND man David Scott has become the first Orangeman to receive an award for cross-community service from a Belfast school.
Mr Scott was presented with the award last Thursday by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on behalf of St Patrick’s Bernageeha in north Belfast.
An education officer within the Order, Mr Scott has visited the school on numerous occasions to speak about the organisation and said he was “honoured” to receive the award.
“To be the first to receive this award is an indication of the efforts of the education programme,” he added.
He explained that his work involves educating all sections of the community about the traditions of the Orange Order.
“I talk to schools and organisations from all sections of the community and try to give them a better understanding of the Order,” he said.
“The pupils at St. Patrick’s have always shown great interest in our tradition. They listen intently and they ask some very tough questions, which I am happy to answer.
“If we are to have a shared future then we need to understand each others’ history, culture and traditions.”
The award was created in memory of former schoolteacher Terry Donaghy who died two years ago. The teacher-turned-solicitor was known for his extraordinary cross-community efforts - often attending Mass on a Saturday evening and visiting different Protestant churches on a Sunday.
Mr Scott’s talks have been crucial in helping pupils understand more about the Orange Order’s traditions, according to headteacher PJ O’Grady.
“There may be some raised eyebrows that David Scott is the recipient of this award,” said Mr O’Grady.
“However, in the spirit of what Terry Donaghy was about, there should be no surprises.
“When it came to the quest for reconciliation, Terry believed in pushing the boat out. We in Bearnageeha endeavour to do likewise.”
Mr Donaghy’s son Leo said his father would have been proud to be associated with the award and last week’s presentation.
“He always was one for reaching out to others and breaking new ground,” he said. “We know he would really approve of this event, because it promotes peace and reconciliation.”
The event was part of the annual cross-community breakfast in the school.