A Tribute to Jim Norbury
by Jack Redston
A further, very welcome tribute to Jim has been received from one of his
former students and eventual colleague.
I was saddened to hear of Jim’s death.
Although I lost touch with him over the years, for me he was a very important person
one of a handful who helped me to achieve my goals in life.
Initially I was one of his students and we later became colleagues and friends
when I took up a part-time position at Openshaw. Jim literally changed my life.
He was one of those gifted people who could make you believe in yourself even when
the tide seemed to be running against you.
I’d started out studying engineering in the early 60s but gradually realised I was
not destined to follow in the steps of Sir Joseph Whitworth.
He obviously recognised this and encouraged me to develop my love of writing and
eventually establish a successful career in business communications. I’ve enjoyed
every moment and will be eternally grateful to Jim for his unwavering support.
I guess he never really appreciated what an influence he’d been, although I did tell
him on several occasions. Still, that was Jim, always interested, enthusiastic, generous
with his time, honest with his comments yet never seeking credit for his contribution.
I suppose I saw him as a free thinker, even a bit of a rebel, unbound and unbowed by
convention, who was ready to challenge popular thinking and debunk many of the
misconceptions he encountered. His only reward was to see people achieve their
full potential - however great or small. He had time for everyone and, as a result,
everyone had time for him.
I have very fond memories of a truly good guy – and no doubt, I will not be alone.
I make this tribute with mixed emotions, pain in losing a colleague
and friend, but pride in having worked with him, sharing many experiences
and forming deep bonds of friendship.
He was of high intellect, a proven academic and a skilful and determined
researcher, contributing to many national surveys.
The opportunity for him to move to polytechnics and Universities were many,
but he was a proud Mancunian and chose to remain at Openshaw Technical College,
with its close-knit staff, whom he considered his band of brothers.
This was Jim's first love - people.
His second love was books, himself a scribe of some ability.
He often related a story of when visiting an overstocked bookshop in Stockport
a book fell onto his head, he was pleased it was only a small volume, but
delighted it was the history of the Geddis family.These people were a fierce clan
who moved from Ireland to Scotland, terrorising everybody from the Romans onward.
This is where I consider Jim got his determination from for his Grandmother
was a Geddis.
Some people called this determination - stubbornness - I prefer to call it
social conscience, for when he saw an injustice he was resolute to eradicate
He shared with me a common belief in the "common-he" in that he who is placed
on the lowest spoke of fortunes wheel is equally entitled to our regard.
He lived by this belief.
He was universally respected across the College by both Staff and students,who
benefitted from knowing him.
Farewell Jim - we shall miss you! but you live on in our memories.