In Memory

Percy Norton

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 from Norfolk.

 Percy certainly 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 afterwards.

 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 a house.

 Two daughters, 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.

 Jeff Crawford