Ian Turnbull: Norwich Union branch manager took part in the world’s longest running ageing study

PUBLISHED: 15:19 19 February 2013

Ian Turnbull, former NU branch manager

Ian Turnbull, former NU branch manager


A former Norwich Union insurance branch manager, Ian Turnbull, who has died aged 91, was involved in one of the world’s longest running studies of ageing.

He took part in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1921 study, which involved taking intelligence and other tests at four-yearly intervals from age 79.

Born in Edinburgh in 1921, he was christened John but always known as Ian. He went to Edinburgh Royal High School and his first job was with the Scottish Union and National Insurance Company in Edinburgh.

He was just 17 when he joined the Territorial Army in 1938.

Two years later, when he was called up, he was posted to the 228th Heavy Anti-Aircraft battery, becoming a bombardier. Commissioned in 1943, he served in the Indian Army and was demobbed in July 1946 as acting major. On his return, he had a chance meeting with a childhood friend in Princes Street, Edinburgh, and they married two years later.

An insurance inspector, in 1957 he became the company’s youngest branch manager, taking charge at Aberdeen, aged 35.

After the merger with Norwich Union, he became fire and accident manager of the joint branch before moves to Glasgow, Stoke, Cork, Ireland, and Edinburgh. His final role was as Norwich branch manager between 1974 and 1981. In retirement, he was active as a member of Probus and Rotary and the Strangers Club. His knowledge of France led to the Norwich Rotary’s link with Nice for which he was given one of the highest awards, a Paul Harris Fellowship.

In demand as an after-dinner speaker, he was a president of the Victoria Bowling Club and member of Norfolk & Suffolk Flyfishers Society. After living in Norwich for 37 years, last year he moved to Reading.

He leaves a widow, Billie, two children, Michael and Moira, and a grandson, Andrew.

His granddaughter, Kirsten, died in 2011 aged 25. A funeral service will be held at Reading Crematorium tomorrow (February 20) at 1.45pm.

Michael Pollitt

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