I was honoured to
be asked to write something about our Patron, Percy Norton, who died
in hospital early the morning after the Club's Championship Show
where it was unusual to sit and chat to Marilyn without him. Even
at the great age of 103, and with failing sight and hearing, he
still insisted on going to the shows - and anywhere is a long way
had an eventful life that nobody could have guessed would last that
long! Always busy, sporty and active, he had been a butcher by trade
before the War but was unable to continue with that trade
He landed on the
Normandy beaches a fortnight after D.Day and three weeks later his
squad was hit by an allied shell that dropped short; four of the six
were seriously injured and three of them mortally. Percy was
operated on and treated in a field hospital for a couple of weeks
before being transferred to a hospital in Weston-Super-Mare where he
was to remain for thirteen months,
Some time later
he went back to that hospital to thank them and the matron called
him "Norton the Resurrection" and told him that when he was sent
home they had only expected him to last another three months!
It was his
injuries that put pay to butchery as he could no longer lift
anything heavy. Later he and his wife Nell had two minibuses in
which they ferried school children from the local villages to the
station so that they could catch their trains to school. They also
had caravans on a site at Wells-next-the-Sea where Angela still has
Angela and Marilyn, completed the family and it was always a very
lose one. Up until quite recently his hobby was fishing and he was
still using his exercise bike. Just a couple of years ago he put me
to shame at a show and proved that he could still touch his toes!
On a personnel
level, it is such a sad loss as our families have been friends since
the sixties through their chance meeting with Molly Raine. There
used to be a famous show in the Midlands called British Timken and a
very young Marilyn handled the family's dogs under Molly who was so
impressed with the red Matzell Forrester that she asked if she might
use him on Ch Imber Aurgia - a red we had made up in 1964. Buster
(Forrester) later win his only CC with Percy handling him; he had
rather a stop-start career as he suffered intermittently with
interdigital cysts and had the happy knack of developing one
whenever there was a favourable judge coming up!
The litter was
born in 1968 and Molly kept the red dog Imber Starshine with whom we
won to Res CC level and he can be found behind most modern reds.
The Nortons had Matzell Imber Stardream who also won to Res CC level
and, more remarkably, won her way our of Limit with Marilyn handling
- no mean feat in the hotbed of Smooth competition at that time -
and with such a young handler!
From there the
kennel bred-on very carefully and consistently resulting in over a
dozen champions. The affix was initially in Nell's name with Marilyn
taken into partnership when she was twenty one.
Percy was easily
one of the most-loved characters in Smooths and will leave a large
gap on the lives of Angela, Marilyn and Michael and be much missed
around the Smooth ringside.