Obituary: Norman Bailey

PUBLISHED: 11:14 14 September 2012

Norman Bailey with wife Hazel.

Norman Bailey with wife Hazel.


Norman Bailey, a businessman who began the annual Great Yarmouth Duck Races and supported foreign charities, has died aged 79.

"To the Rotarians he was a friend, gentleman and the very embodiment of the Rotary ethos ‘Service Above Self’."

Jo Mysko, daughter.

The founder member, past president and honorary member of Great Yarmouth Haven Rotary Club, and joint owner of one of the largest chrysanthemum growers in the UK, died at his home in Filby on September 2.

Mr Bailey attended the Norwich School with brothers Arthur and Gordon, and, as was the case with his siblings who died before him, his funeral will be a joyous celebration complete with jazz band.

The trio attended the prestigious school in Norwich before taking over G A Bailey Ltd of Martham from their mother, Lilian, in 1952.

He took up the role of sales director, taking responsibility for the wholesale division which supplied flowers throughout Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

What Norman started: The annual Great Yarmouth Charity Duck Race.

The Annual Charity Duck Races, organised by the Great Yarmouth Haven Rotary Club, is a fun event which raises money for many worthy causes. 2012 sees the event take place for the fourteenth consecutive year.

Thousands of bright yellow plastic ducks take to the water at the Venetian Waterways in Great Yarmouth for an afternoon of light hearted competition.

Over the years, the event has raised nearly £50,000 for charities. Funds are generated by the pre-sale of ducks for the races at £1 per entry, with over £700 of prize money available. Sales continue at the venue on race day.

It was one of the largest wholesale operations in the UK supplying, amongst others, Sainsburys, Tescos, Morrisons and Budgens and had nurseries at two sites in Martham, and a third at Catfield, employing at one time up to 150 members of staff.

In his earlier years, he was a member of the Great Yarmouth Round Table Club, and the leading organiser of the successful Round Table Donkey Derbies, corralling a number of showbusiness celebrities into lending their support to raise funds for charitable causes.

He went on to help found the Yarmouth Haven Rotary, and enjoyed two spells as president of the club, one year achieving the award of Rotarian of the Year.

Significantly, during his time with the Rotary he was chairman of the club’s international committee. In this role he was largely responsible for the financial support of, amongst others, the Jaipur Limb Centre for Children in India - which provides low-cost artifical limbs for Indian children, Sight-Savers - providers of eye cataract operations for the poor in India and Africa and Mercy Ships - a charitable organisation specialising in the treatment of infants in Africa with cleft palates.

Rev Peter Glanville of St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Yarmouth, who will be overseeing the funeral, said: “Norman’s brother Arthur was one of my parishioners, that is how I came to do the funerals. All three wished for their funerals to be joyous, as opposed to solemn, occasions.

“I remember at the last funeral, I joked it was two down, one to go, and Norman shouted ‘not too soon I hope!’”

Mr Bailey’s daughter Jo Mysko said that tributes have been paid to her father, who was a “very popular local figure, particularly within the Great Yarmouth Borough.”

She added: “He was a much respected local businessman and Rotarian, but perhaps his most enduring legacy will be the annual Great Yarmouth Duck Races, having initiated the event from its inauguration in the late 1990s, being personally responsible for overseeing the raising of close to £100,000 for those in need.

“Rotary Club members have stated they will most remember Norman for his compassion, dedication, example and great kindness – a friend, gentleman and the very embodiment of the Rotary ethos ‘Service Above Self’.”

Mr Bailey is survived by his widow Hazel, and children Laurie, Jo, Ross and Sarah, 10 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

The funeral will be today, Friday, at 3.20pm at Gorleston Crematorium.

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