BORN and bred in Warrington, Norman Banner, solicitor with FDR Law was today presented by HRH The Prince of Wales with the insignia of the MBE awarded to him in the New Year Honours List for services to the community.
The Investiture ceremony took place in the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace, where Norman attended the morning ceremony with his wife Louise and his sons Mark (20) and Edward (14).
His voluntary work began over 50 years ago when he built and ran up the Youth Club at Grappenhall Independent Methodist Church for a number of years.
After graduating in law from Manchester Polytechnic, Norman joined Robert Davies & Co and has served a total of over 47 years with one or other of the component firms that comprise FDR Law. He became a partner in the practice and rose to Senior Partner before retiring from the partnership at 65 and continues as a consultant solicitor with the firm.
Shortly after qualifying Norman was approached by well known local head teacher, magistrate and charity champion Marjorie Griffiths and was invited to join the recently formed Warrington Committee for Disabled People, an umbrella group representing local charities and statutory colleagues to encourage collaborative work and an improvement to the provisions for people with a disability.
Norman chaired the committee for many years and out of their work was formed Warrington Crossroads Care Attendant Scheme which Norman also chaired and from he also obtained the full funding for the first single occupancy vehicle with a tail-lift for Warrington Community Transport.
Involvement with Crossroads Care took Norman onto the national board which he also chaired for 10 years. Crossroads was based in Rugby and apart from monthly meetings, Norman spent many evenings addressing the AGMs of member schemes across the UK, visited schemes in Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands and attended and hosted many events in London including three receptions at No. 10 Downing Street. His weekday Crossroads commitments were taken as annual leave from his legal work.
Crossroads Care grew under his chairmanship from around 50 schemes to over 200 at the time of his retirement.
Following Crossroads, Sir Donald Wilson the chair of the Regional Health Authority invited Norman to sit on the board of the authority following which he appointed him as the first chair of Warrington Hospital Trust which office Norman held for 12 years, the last four following the merger with Halton.
It was in the first weeks of the Trust, exactly 25 years ago that Warrington Hospital was at the centre of the town’s brave response to the IRA bombing.
For the last 10 years until autumn 2017!, Norman was on the board of St Rocco’s Hospice for most of that time as Chair. He continues his interest and involvement as a vice-chair.
For the last few years he has served as a Deputy Lieutenant of Cheshire and was a founder member of Cheshire Community Foundation where he was able to assist in the creation of a £1m + trust fund for the benefit of projects for elderly people ring-fenced for Warrington.
There were many other local voluntary and statutory organisations that Norman has been involved with including the Warrington Festival Trust and Warrington Community Health Council.
Upon receiving the award, Norman thanked all those that had worked alongside him over the last 50 years and his family who had supported him in his activities.
He added, “The voluntary sector is invaluable in our community. It fills many of the gaps in the provision of services, particularly at times of limited government and local authority funding. I have been lucky to be able to play a part in various capacities but it is not the titles or the awards that are important. What is important is making a real difference within the town, county or country and striving to make life better. That is reward enough. I am one of thousands who have tried to do that and who will continue for years to come.”