The Ladies Orange Association of Scotland
As we look back on the history of the Ladies Orange Association of Scotland many sisters and brothers alike would question why it should have taken over one hundred years of Orangeism in Scotland before the Ladies were allowed to join the Order.
Despite the support which had been given by the mothers, wives and sisters many Orangemen of the day were horrified at the thought of Ladies joining the Order after all in those days a woman`s place was considered to be in the home.
The issue of female lodges was first brought before Grand Lodges in 1902 but like much of society the majority of brothers were reluctant to make the change. It would be seven years later before the decision was eventually overturned by Grand Lodge in June 1909.
It is well known in Orange history that initially two ladies Dorothy Wilson and her daughter Harriet travelled to England and were initiated into Ladies Lodge No. 101 in Newcastle.
Thanks to the perseverance of Sister Wilson her daughters Harriet and Anne and Mrs Margaret Mc Whinney the first lodge appropriately names Scotland`s First Female Lodge No. 1 was opened on the 17th November 1909 under the auspices of District No.12. The first Worthy Mistress being Sister Harriet Wilson.
Such was the desire of the ladies this event was closely followed by opening of No. 2 in Clydebank, No.3 in Wishaw and No. No.4 in Paisley. Within two years 40 Female lodges were said to be functioning.
Even in those far off days it was obvious that the Ladies Orange Association would establish itself in not only Orange circles but in society in general.
The brothers were soon to accept that the sisters were fantastic fundraisers. Their organizational skills were also widely recognised as being second to none. The sisters were particularly noticeable for their efforts in raising funds to help secure the new Orange headquarters in Cathedral Street, Glasgow. Many other Orange Halls can also claim to have been purchased with the help of our Ladies.
It would be 1917 before permission was granted for a half yearly Ladies Conference comprising of two sisters from each lodge and the Grand Lodge Committee .Later the sisters were given permission to elect an annual President which continued until October 1929 when the then Grand Master Col. A.D Mc Innes Shaw ruled that from that day the business of all future conferences should be conducted by the Most Worthy Grand Mistress and handed the gavel to Sister Helen Kennedy Scotland`s first Most Worthy Grand Mistress. The first Ladies Committee was elected four years later.
The Ladies Orange Association is founded on an open Bible and the Scriptures contained therein. Faith Hope and Charity are principles we hold dear. For over a hundred years the Sisters of Scotland have worked tirelessly in promoting the Christian principles of the Order by their charitable giving.
In the dark days of both world wars as thousands of brave Orangemen joined their comrades to serve King and country, the sisters often despite poverty and hardship continued to promote the Orange cause on the home front.
While many Orangewomen went off to work as nurses, in the fields, industry or the munitions factories others worked tirelessly in raising funds in support of our troops on the battlefields. Christmas boxes containing warm hand knitted socks and hats, cigarettes food and letters of encouragement were collected and sent out.
National Charities such as the British Red Cross, The Prisoner of War Fund and the National Air Raid Fund as well as many others also benefited from the benevolence of the Ladies. Money was also raised to provide several beds in Glasgow and the old Edinburgh Royal Infirmary`s with cot`s being donated to the Rottonrow Maternity Hospital in Glasgow.
In times of national tragedy such as The Ibrox Disaster and the Dunblane tragedy the Ladies of Scotland joined with the Grand Orange Lodge in offering help and support by visiting bereaved families and offering support, spiritual comfort and financial assistance.
Several years ago the Ladies Special Efforts Fund was launched to run on a bi-annual basis and we are proud to say that since that time well in excess of £120,000 has been donated to local and National Charities such as Erskine Hospital, C.H.A.S, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland . Breast Cancer Research, Combat Stress, M.S. and the Scottish Orange Home Fund. In November 2015 cheques totalling £26,000 were presented to Alzheimer` s Scotland , Soldiers Off The Street and The Glasgow Evangelical Church Restoration Fund.
Special mention must also be given to the many lodges throughout the country who, while supporting the Special Efforts fund also continue to promote the Orange cause within their local communities by raising and donating thousands upon thousands of pounds to hospitals , churches, schools individual families and charitable causes in general. However while our charitable work is important it is only a small part of the work done by the Ladies Association.
The Orangewomen of today are encouraged to become more involved in the day to day running of the Order within their lodges and districts.
Several have been opted onto Grand lodge Committees such as the Public Questions and Political Awareness and played a tremendous part in the British Together Campaign.
Sisters and Brothers work tirelessly together on the Scottish Orange Home Fund Committee .This committee originally set up as The Ladies Orange Home Fund now.
provides many of our senior members and those in need of some respite care with a well- earned break at one of three facilities available on the East and West Coast of Scotland.
The Ladies Orange Association has come a long way and as we look to the future we are encouraged by the fact the Ladies Trustees have an excellent working relationship with the Most Worthy Grand Master and his Executive Officers . Many senior brothers now recognise and accept the Ladies have much to offer and we in turn have been honoured to see the Grand Mistress of the time and Officers represent the Ladies Orange Association at many important Orange and National events such as The Imperial Orange Council , the National Service to Commemorate the Great War at Edinburgh Castle , and the National Service held in Glasgow Cathedral to Celebrate the Commonwealth Games, the Diamond Jubilee and Coronation of Her Gracious Majesty the Queen and the service in Westminster Abbey in the presence of Her Majesty to Celebrate the Coronation.
The Ladies continue to hold three Conferences a year and these have become more varied and interesting by the introduction of several guest speakers.
Recognising the importance of training within the Association and further to an updated version of the Ladies Training Manual being issued it was decided to re-instate the annual Seminars in 2015. Since that time the Ladies Committee have carried out seminars covering subjects such as best practice in the lodge room, ritual and degree work, secretarial and administration skills
.A special Seminar was held for lodge Chaplains under the guidance of Bro. Rev Malcolm Anderson, Bro Rev. Peter Mc Cool and Bro. Rev. Ian Lochran and the Ladies Trustees are indebted to these Brothers who gave of their time and expertise to ensure the course was tailored exactly to the needs of the Ladies Lodges.
The Ladies were also invited to participate in the County Grand Lodge of the East Outreach Programme when a further four Seminars based on best practice in the lodge room was requested to be carried out within the local areas of the County Grand Lodge .
With the introduction recently of the Ladies Training Committee plans are now well underway to introduce a more varied programme of subjects into the Seminars as well as the introduction of Induction Evening’s, Open Day’s and the opportunity is being given to young members age 16 to 25 to meet with the Officers in the hope of gaining an insight how they view the Order and where they would like to see it going in the future.
The Ladies Committee were honoured to be invited to take part in the County Grand Lodge of Glasgow Orangefest Celebrations and to perform the Floral Service in George Square. The service based on the emblems of the Ladies Association was written by the late Sister Pastor Helen Walker Past Grand Mistress and explains in word ,hymn and prayer the scriptural meaning of the emblems we wear. It was introduced in the hope it would give non members a better understanding of the Ladies Association and we are always delighted to take it out to local church groups, Women`s Guild meetings, community or lodge functions where it has always been well received.
Is recognition of Her Majesty becoming Britain`s Longest Reigning Monarch several hundred visitors attending Glasgow Doors Open Day in Glasgow Evangelical Church were welcomed by the sight of a beautiful Floral Exhibition arrange by the Ladies Orange Association . Those who attend were given a very warm welcome by the members of the Church and the Officers of the Association and invited to attend the Floral Service being held in the downstairs hall on the day.
The following evening several hundred people again attended the church where a special service of Praise and Thanksgiving for Her Majesty`s reign was conducted by the Grand Mistress and Officers of the Ladies Orange Association.
Those pioneering women of 1909 have left a legacy which we the present day Sisters are proud to carry into the future as members of the Loyal Orange Institution it is our duty to see that our Christian Faith is never compromised . It is paramount that we never lose sight of the Christian principles our Order is founded on. We can look back with pride on our achievement’s but we must also look forward to the challenges that lie before us in the secular society we live in today.
The members of the Ladies Association have much to offer in today`s society .Many of our Sisters are young dedicated professional women who can be found holding positions in universities, Banks , the National Health Service and the Nursing or Teaching professions to name but a few. Others serve their communities on Housing Associations .or School and Community Councils. They are dedicated to the work of their churches often serving as Officers, Elders, Deacons or working with the youth groups. Other sisters are dedicated volunteers visiting the lonely in hospital or counciling and offering spiritual comfort to bereaved families or to those receiving palliative care in their local hospice.
As Orange Sisters they are proud to stand beside the Brothers to defend and maintain the Reformed Protestant Faith. To stand for civil and Religious Liberty for all. To be Scots bearing true allegiance to the Queen and to the United Kingdom of Grat Britain and Northern Ireland and to promote the welfare of mankind through their charitable acts.
The Ladies Orange Association has established itself as an important part of the Loyal Orange Institution of Scotland and we pray that with God`s help and our perseverance, it will continue to be so for many years to come.