Our chairman, John Norman, was recently honoured by the Ipswich Rotary with a prestigious award. Established in 1957 the Paul Harris Fellowship acknowledges individuals who contribute to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International; here in the UK it is awarded for good works undertaken.
As a child John is remembered as a fundraiser for local projects involving underprivileged children, the poor and lonely elderly: the experience of which has stayed with him for life. All this and John's passion for walking, climbing, camping and cycling, sharing his experiences with his own children, foster children, students, friends and adult groups has exerted an influence well beyond a personal and professional life.
On arrival in Ipswich in 1979 he became a foster parent, with Christine, his wife, sharing their home, life and experiences with numerous foster children, improving their lives and also organising, on behalf of the Ipswich Foster Care Association, many outings and activities for the families and children.
Hugely helpful and caring he has been involved with countless youth groups including the Scouts, Duke of Edinburgh Awards, cycling proficiency and school camps. In the late 1980s he became County Co-ordinator for Operation Raleigh (now Raleigh International). This was to select young people for gruelling three-month challenges in foreign lands focusing on working through, for and with youth to inspire and make positive changes in the areas of careful use of natural resources and building resilience in vulnerable communities.
For years he led groups on rock climbing trips to Derbyshire's Peak District, the Lakes and Scotland; he has stewarded at fireworks in Christchurch Park and Ipswich maritime events. Currently he is a volunteer for the National Trust working as a warden at Orford Ness during the summer months; as well as this he sits on the Northgate Foundation's Board of Trustees, an educational charitable trust based in Ipswich.
Working at Suffolk College, as a lecturer and latterly Head of Construction, he organised ‘study tours' for his students providing real-life experiences of major construction projects. A great believer in life-long learning he continues to educate people through his many talks about Ipswich and he has assiduously researched and written almost two hundred ‘Ipswich Icons' articles in the local newspapers reaching large numbers of the population with his informed and critical accounts. To add to this he writes and gives interviews to the Talking Newspaper and can often be heard on the local radio or television giving the Ipswich Society point of view on local issues.
A member of the Ipswich Society for many years he is our Chairman but also sits on Ipswich Borough Council's Conservation and Design Panel reviewing planning applications in Conservation Areas. Moreover, he finds time to be a Trustee for Suffolk Building Preservation Trust and a Trustee and Chairman of Suffolk Architectural Heritage Trust. As an Honorary member of the Suffolk Association of Architects (part of the RIBA) he judges the Craftsmanship Awards for Suffolk. The depth of knowledge he possesses and the commitment he shows for the preservation of Ipswich and its history is outstanding.
Rarely orthodox, untypical, and not always a team worker, he is however, an achiever. Pragmatic, determined, in all he does, he always puts himself out to help others. He is single-minded, focused, sometimes dogmatic, but warm and totally dedicated to the task in hand.
The Paul Harris Fellowship award is among the highest of honours to be bestowed. We in the Society, who have known John's attributes for so long a time, can only be grateful to Christine for her support and forbearance but loudly applaud the work shouldered by John and marvel at the amount that our worthy Chairman manages to undertake while not ‘on duty'.