Paper girl Betty’s 100,000-mile round trip to deliver the news in Thompson

84-year-old Betty Norris from Thompson has been delivering the EDP for the past 38 years. Piucture: Matthew Usher. 84-year-old Betty Norris from Thompson has been delivering the EDP for the past 38 years. Piucture: Matthew Usher.

Monday, June 23, 2014
8:40 AM

After almost four decades delivering the EDP – and more than 100,000 miles – 84-year-old Betty Norris has now made the headlines herself.

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Betty’s headlines

Betty Norris has delivered some momentous news during her 38 years on her paper round. But here are a selection of headlines from dates that were particularly special to her.

25/5/1980 – Betty and Archibald Norris celebrate 25 years of marriage, their silver wedding anniversary

31/1/1990 – Her granddaughter, Lara Blake, is born

2/1/1993 – Her second granddaughter, Amie Blake, is born

1/1/2000 – Mrs Norris is made an MBE for services to Thompson

27/11/2009 – Mrs Norris celebrates her 80th birthday

Following a brief period out of action, the grandmother has returned to the south west Norfolk paper round which she started 38 years ago, when she took up the role after her then teenage daughter gave up the part-time job.

Mrs Norris’ dedication to delivering newspapers to Thompson, near Watton, began in 1976 and her routine remains unchanged.

Six days a week, she drives to Watton to collect the newspapers, before returning to her village to complete the round – a total of nine miles.

She delivers to 40 homes by 7.50am before returning to her house on Hallfield Road for a cup of tea and opening the post office she runs from her hallway.

Even on the morning that her husband Archibald died, neighbours said the papers dropped on their doormats only half an hour later than usual.

During bad winters Mrs Norris would not think twice about trekking through the snow, determined to see villagers get their morning read.

“I really enjoy doing it,” she said. “Thompson is my village and I would do whatever it takes to keep it alive. It’s just what I do.”

Over the course of her career, she has covered just over 100,000 miles – more than three times the distance around the earth – and, up until seven weeks ago had never taken a day off sick. A hip operation eventually forced her to give up the delivery duties and temporarily pass the baton to her granddaughters, Amie and Lara Blake.

But on Saturday, Mrs Norris, who is just four years behind the world’s oldest paper girl, returned to do what she loves after being given the all-clear to drive again.

Mrs Norris and her husband ran the village shop in Thompson before they built and opened a store on the Norwich Road in Watton.

It was when they retired from the shop, now the Aerolite Garage, that Mrs Norris started the round. In 2000, she was awarded an MBE for her services to Thompson, which include 60 years as the secretary of the village hall committee, being chairman of the school governors as well as being made a Freemason.

“I have always got my living from Thompson, and I still do now,” she said.

“So I like to give something back, and this is one way I can do it.”

With a nine-mile paper round to cover, Betty Norris has opted for a car, over the traditional bicycle. Her array of vehicles through her 38-year career underlines the changing times she has seen. She has driven a Ford van, a Reliant Robin, a Saab, a Proton, a Mitsubishi and a Toyota Yaris.

But her route has remained more consistent: From her home on Hallfield Road to Norwich Road, Watton, to pick up the papers > Butter’s Hall Lane > College Road > Church Road > Hall Lane > Hallfield Road > Tottingtton Road > Griston Road > Mill Road > Watton Road > Pockthorpe Lane > Marlpit Road > home to Hallfield Road.

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