The head of the Royal Black Institution has announced he will formally step down after 10 years as sovereign grand master.
Millar Farr has led the loyal order since 2008 when he took over from the late William Logan MBE.
The 76-year-old Cookstown man said “now is the appropriate time” to hand over the reins.
Mr Farr’s successor will be elected at a meeting of the organisation’s ruling grand council, scheduled to take place on June 16.
“Having served in the role for 10 years and after careful consideration, I believe now is the appropriate time to step down as sovereign grand master,” Mr Farr said.
“It has been an immense honour to have served and represented the membership and promote the Christian ethos and cultural heritage of the Imperial Grand Black Chapter.”
During his 10 years at the helm, the institution has centrally raised almost £500,000 for a number of good causes through its biennial charity appeal.
Earlier this year, it was also confirmed the loyal order would be establishing new headquarters in Loughgall in Co Armagh – incorporating an interpretive centre which is due to open to the public in 2020.
Mr Farr said: “I am extremely proud to have led the organisation through a significant period in its long and distinguished history, and in so doing, follow in the footsteps of some wonderful ambassadors.
“Most notable is the acquisition of a new headquarters – under the ownership of the institution for the first time – which is a landmark juncture and in due course will symbolise an exciting new era for the Royal Black.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of my tenure was undoubtedly the endless charitable outreach of our membership, who selflessly and willingly raised – and continue to do so – substantial funds for an array of deserving causes. Such Christian compassion and kindness is deserving of the utmost praise and admiration.”
Mr Farr also highlighted improved communication within the institution and beyond through the introduction of a biannual magazine and the launch of an enhanced online and social media presence, as other standout developments.
“Never would I have imagined when I joined the institution almost 50 years ago that I would one day have the opportunity to lead it – it has been a truly humbling experience and a great privilege.”
Paying tribute to Mr Farr on behalf of the membership, Imperial Grand Registrar Billy Scott said: “It has always been a pleasure to work with Millar during his term of office. He has always been a model of courtesy and helpfulness to everybody. He has provided wise, shrewd and stable leadership for the institution over the duration of the past decade and has steered a course which has kept the organisation true to its principles, but also in the mainstream of community life within the Province.”
Reflecting Mr Farr’s legacy, Mr Scott added: “The new headquarters ushers in a new era for the institution. Millar’s guidance and leadership has brought us to that point.
“Our charitable endeavours are well established, but Millar developed and built upon the innovations of his predecessor, Billy Logan, and it is now firmly established as one of the major activities of the institution’s outworkings.
“I wish to thank Millar for his exemplary leadership; astute guidance, and selfless service over the past 10 years.”