Ipswich Society chairman John Norman made honorary freeman for contributions to the town
An ‘Ipswich icon’ has been awarded the borough’s highest honour for a lifetime of work and dedication.
John Norman, who has worn many hats since he first came to Ipswich, was made Honorary Freeman of the Borough last night, an award reserved for those who have made outstanding contributions to the town.
Mr Norman, who currently acts as chairman of the Ipswich Society, will join the likes of Lord Kitchener and Sir Bobby Robson, who were made Freemen in 1902 and 2008 respectively, for his lifelong dedication to the town.
Starting as a builder in Burton-on-Trent after he left school at 16, Mr Norman’s career had him take on many different jobs throughout his life, including teaching construction when he moved to Ipswich in 1979.
Although Mr Norman has a number of accolades, he says his teaching is what he is most proud of, a career which often saw him taking construction students on tours to different parts of the country to learn from ‘lifetime experiences’.
This impact on younger people was echoed by both family and councillors last night, each seeming to have a different story to tell.
Lindsey Williams, Mr Norman’s daughter, said: “Standing there, watching him up on stage, and hearing what the mayor and all the councillors had to say, each having a different experience of him through different walks of their life — I feel proud.
“I don’t think you can always put it into words, it’s quite emotional because he’s so inspiring and he’s always inspired me through my entire life., and I see that he’s touched just so many different people’s lives and the community of Ipswich, whether they be students or young people.
“It’s the commitment that dad shows, and in everything I do, I hear that voice behind me just saying, just keep trying, just keep going.”
Cllr Carol Jones, who was the first to make a speech described Mr Norman as an ‘Ipswich Icons’ as an hommage to his long-standing column in which he shares his breadth of knowledge relating to the town.
She added: “People who get these awards have given their all in many ways or were hugely prestigious people to the town.
“John has done his best for the town to tell its history, to describe the best things about it, to defend its buildings and to work with its young people.”
Mr Norman not only had a big impact on those he interacted with across town, but his achievements also inspired those in his own family.
Caroline Bowden, also Mr Norman’s daughter, said: “To us, he’s dad, or grandpa, and growing up we’ve watched him help a lot of people and we’ve learned to be the people we are today because of our parents doing so much for others.
“We are tremendously proud.”
Although Mr Norman has already said he would be slowing down some of his work due to a terminal cancer diagnosis, he still wishes to keep some of his functions.
For instance, he recently raised over £10,000 to create spaces for charities to operate.
He added: “Because of my cancer, I’ve been trying to cut down on the number of things I do, but I’ll certainly carry on doing the same, I want to still be involved.
“My goal is to make sure the people I come in contact with do something that advances them and learn something new or do something positive.”