The Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, has paid tribute to Roy Kells MBE.
Mr Stevenson said: “Roy Kells was held in high esteem by all who knew him and can best be described as one of life’s true gentlemen, A life-long member of the Orange family, joining first in Portadown whilst serving his apprenticeship he quickly transferred to his home County of Fermanagh and joined the ranks of Fawney Heroes LOL 329, Lisnaskea.
“As a natural leader, he made steady progress through the ranks of the Institution and in time became County Grand Master of Fermanagh (1999-2003) and served as Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland (2003-2004).
“He gave dedicated service not only to the Orange Institution, but also to the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and, of course, the successful family business, SD Kells, established by his parents in 1928, which he helped expand and develop over many years, employing dozens of people across the province.
“At the outbreak of the troubles, Roy joined the UDR. Here too he exhibited the characteristics required to be a leader of men, gaining a commission from The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. While holding the rank of Major, he commanded C Company, 4 UDR based in Lisnaskea through the darkest days of the ruthless terror campaign in South Fermanagh. He would go on to achieve the rank of Lieutenant Colonel – the highest rank achievable by a part time soldier in the British Army.
“It was most fitting that Roy should receive an MBE for his outstanding leadership and service.
“As a high profile UDR Officer and businessman Roy became a target for IRA terrorists. Over the years, his businesses were a frequent target for bombers and arsonists and direct attempts were made on his life. But Roy’s strength of character, his proud Ulster background and quiet determination not to let terrorists dictate how he should live his life, or serve his community, saw him continue with his work.
“Many lesser men would have kept out of the public eye, but Roy was proud to serve the Orange Institution throughout these years – holding high profile positions locally and nationally and as a central figure in many other of the Institutions internal committees and initiatives.
“Roy’s lifetime of commitment to Orangeism was publicly acknowledged at the 2018 Orange Community Awards when he was presented with the Institution’s Lifetime Achievement Award. A fitting recognition for one whom so many have looked to and taken inspiration from.
“The Institution has indeed lost one of its most influential and most respected advocates and his loss will be keenly felt by his family and his Orange brethren throughout the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.”
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