FREEMAN of Warrington Norman Banner MBE died earlier today (Thursday) aged 71.
Born and bred in Warrington, Norman, who recently retired as solicitor with FDR Law was well known and hugely respected across the town for his various charitable and community roles spanning more than 50 years.
He leaves wife Louise and his sons Mark (21) and Edward (15).
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 served a total of over 48 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 continuing as a consultant solicitor with the firm until earlier this year.
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 which 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 that Warrington Hospital was at the centre of the town’s brave response to the IRA bombing.
For 10 years Norman was on the board of St Rocco’s Hospice for most of that time as Chair.
For the last few years he 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.
In 2016 he was awarded the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award at the Warrington Business Awards.
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.
He was also a regular at the Warrington Club, where he was a popular character, still visiting for lunches on a regular basis following his retirement.
He died earlier today at his Lymm home following complications from cancer, which he had been battling for more than two years.
Details of his funeral will be announced at a later date.