St Albans war hero and industrial negotiator Norman celebrates his 101st birthday with doorstep concert
- Credit: Archant
One year on from scoring his century, a St Albans bowls stalwart is still going strong for his 101st.
Norman McGlynn MBE celebrated reaching 100 in the same year that Townsend Bowls Club also marked the same milestone, and the joint birthday celebrations lasted for weeks.
Following a party organised by the club featuring a bowls-themed cake, his dance club threw an afternoon tea with lots of dancing and another cake!
He continued with another huge party thrown for him at Morrisons in St Albans, attended by then-Mayor Cllr Janet Smith, the sea cadets, the fire brigade, the marines and a whole troupe of Irish dancers with a home-baked Royal Navy-themed cake.
Finally there was a mass dedicated to him at St Albans and St Stephen’s Church, where he is their longest-standing parishioner of 50 years-plus and another cake, plus the obligatory birthday card from HM The Queen, who he has met on several occasions, including when she awarded him an MBE.
Norman’s celebrations for his 101st birthday included a personal delivery of his favourite meal - fish and chips with peas, a slice of white bread and butter, and tartare sauce - delivered by the team at Morrisons - and a doorstep concert organised by daughter-in-law Danielle with BBC reporter Justin Dealey and WWII singer Rebecca Poole.
Norman was born in 1919, just after the end of the First World War. This was 10 months after his father had been released from a German POW camp, decided to walk home, and finally returned to his wife in the Staffordshire Potteries area.
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Both Norman and his sister won scholarships to the local public school, where both excelled, so much so that Norman was destined for Oxbridge - almost unheard of locally in that day.
Unfortunately family economics dictated that Norman should instead take up the offer of a posting in the civil service, firstly in Birmingham, then onto London.
Almost immediately, the Second World War was to intervene and in 1939, aged 19, he volunteered to join the Navy. Working his way rapidly up to the rank of sub lieutenant, he was part of the crew of the first minesweeper that helped to clear the beaches for the D-day landings and subsequently kept the access passage open for the flotilla of small ships to enter.
His minesweeper, HMS Speedwell, was then stationed at Murmansk, where it had a key role in the Arctic convoys that saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens.. On the few occasions that Norman has spoken of his life in the most extreme of conditions, he described temperatures of minus 20 degrees, 30ft waves and the constant threat of German U-boat attacks.But his only real complaint was a constant diet of sandwiches!
Conditions on board must have been anything but luxurious but, typically, Norman’s only comment about that was that his hammock was really comfortable.
After the war he returned to the civil service and studied at evening school for the first of his two degrees. He helped to set up the first Labour Exchange, now called Job Centres, and again, rose through the ranks to senior principle.
In 1968 he was awarded the MBE for his services to the nation, particularly for his role as primary negotiator between the government, Rolls Royce and Lockheed Martin, ensuring Rolls Royce remained strike-free during negotiations with Lockheed for the Airliner Tri Star jet engines, a condition that Lockheed had imposed as a negotiating condition. This was at a time when Great Britain had a terrible reputation for frequent strikes and long tea breaks. He regularly visited Buckingham Palace in his role and also prepared questions and answers for Prime Minister’s Question Tmes.
Norman was “mentioned in despatches” no less than three times, awarded the Africa Star, the Atlantic Star, the 1939-1945 Star and the Arctic Star, and, most recently, was called up to the Russian Embassy where a very grateful official awarded him the Ushakov Medal - given for “bravery and courage in naval theatres” which, 80 years on, recognised the role that the 19 year old had played.
Norman was married for 65 years to Gladys, who sadly passed away in 2005, and has four children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He is an accomplished ballroom dancer, an excellent bowler, swimmer and also an extremely melodic singer.