An Orangeman from Co Armagh is looking forward to celebrating the Twelfth of July during what has been a year full of milestones for the centenarian.

Hilbert Willis (100), from Loughgall, hopes to be part of the parade in Killylea on Friday as his beloved lodge takes part in the annual demonstration which is expected to draw 40,000 spectators onto the streets.

It comes just five months after the pensioner received a special birthday card from King Charles III and four months after he celebrated 80 years membership of the Royal Black Institution.

“I would never miss the Twelfth, and hopefully I will be there this year,” Mr Willis told the Belfast Telegraph.

“I started out as a side drummer in Kinnego Flute Band No.5. But eventually my son said to me ‘I think you have too many grey hairs’ so I left when I was old enough to still have wit.

“I absolutely loved it. However age was starting to show on me and I wasn’t walking as well as I should be.

“But I’ll always be number five while I’m alive.”

Sir Knight Willis was recognised at a ceremony in the Royal Black Institution’s headquarters in Loughgall earlier this year in the presence of Sovereign Grand Master Rev William Anderson and officers of Summerisland Royal Black District No 6.

He was presented with a certificate to mark his impressive service record which began on March 1, 1944, when he joined the organisation — days after his 20th birthday on February 11. The proud member of Kinnego LOL No.5 was one of the founding members of the junior lodge in Loughgall before he joined the flute band.

“I was worshipful master in the lodge for three or four years and I was treasurer too at one point,” he said.

“I’ll tell you the honest truth, I am in quite a few societies – but I have been in the lodge before all of them. I put on my Orange lodge sash first.”

Mr Willis, who was a groundsman for Loughgall FC for three decades — as well as chairman for 10 years — enjoyed a special dinner at the Irish League club where a stand was named after him earlier this year.

The honour recognises his fundraising efforts.

“My name is on the top of it, so I had my 100th birthday party there and it lasted all weekend – I requested donations instead of gifts which ended up raising another £8,700.

“I still appreciate my card from the King, but I am looking forward to Friday because I still enjoy the Twelfth.”

The dedicated Orangeman hopes to be in the back of a minibus making it easier for him to participate in the demonstration. “It’s nice to still be a part of the parade, that’s very important to me,” Mr Willis said.

“A lot of people have come and gone over the years from when I joined. I just thank the Lord that I’m still here and I am very grateful for my health.

“My eyesight is not the best and my hearing is a bit dull. But I feel 100% and can’t complain about anything.”