Topic: Bill Norris

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Bill Norris is a remarkable gentleman and not only for the fact he has just celebrated his 103rd birthday.

Bill is currently residing in Darfield Hospital but has led a long and interesting life.

He was born in Leicester, England, on 1st April, 1903, his father and mother keeping a corner grocery store complete with beer off licence.Bill spoke with affection of his maternal grandfather who was an engine driver, once driving the royal train, and while he was extremely fond of his mother he was fearful of his father, who was a very strict Victorian type.

Bill excelled in Maths at school and right up to the time of his recent stroke could quickly and easily perform complicated mental arithmetic. This ability with figures led him to keep a close eye on finances. Bill married Frances in 1928, although they had known each other since he was twelve. They had three children, Mary, Pat (dec) and Helen (dec).


At sixteen Bill trained as a hosiery manufacturer later tutoring the subject as well. Eventually he purchased his own manufacturing business and employed up to twenty girls making babywear, while he travelled to get orders. Bill's occupation exempted him from active service during the war but he joined the Homeguard and the Observer Corps. At war's end he enlisted with Army intelligence and while posted to Sheffield the business was run by Frances with the help of a team of older women. "Each year father put on a big party at Christmas and after the war, when we were allowed to attend, fireworks were included", said Bill's daughter Mary.

In 1948 Bill thought there would be more opportunity in New Zealand and so the family emigrated. Bill was brought over by Bruce Woollen Mills to manage their knitting and garment making plus new developments. The family travelled by ship disembarking in Auckland and flying to their new home in Dunedin.


Bill and Frances travelled widely and enjoyed card games, bowls and square dancing in their leisure time. Sport always played a large part in their lives, Bill being involved in rugby, cricket and hockey. Both played tennis until well into their sixties. Bill has always loved music, learning to play when very young and often reminiscing about early morning practice. The Anglican Church too, was an important part of Bill's life.

Bill was always careful with his money but delighted in treating his family to 'travels', taking them to Pacific Islands, Honolulu, Disneyland, England and Europe. Bill has five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren and while most of his peers are deceased he enjoys the many friendships he has with people of varying ages.


Source: Malvern News 7th April 2006

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Bill Norris


First Names:Bill
Last Name:Norris
Date of Birth:1 April 1903
Place of Birth:Leicester, England
User Name:Selwyn Library