A life dedicated to helping others - Norwich’s first CAB organiser passes away

Delphine Dickson (far right) at a retirement reception at City Hall in 1981.

Delphine Dickson (far right) at a retirement reception at City Hall in 1981. - Credit: Archant

A community figure, who dedicated her life to helping others, has passed away at the age of 93.

Delphine Dickson was appointed as the first coordinator of the Norwich Citizens' Advice Bureau when it was established in 1967 and made a valuable contribution to help city folk with their problems.

When she retired from the CAB 13 years later, she had built up a 65 strong army of volunteers at the Exchange Street bureau and had overseen a total of 180,000 inquiries to her department.

Miss Dickson, who was made an MBE in 1983 for her services to the CAB, died peacefully at home on July 16 and a requiem mass was held in her memory at St John's Roman Catholic Cathedral yesterday.

The CAB stalwart was the daughter of the former Lord Mayor of Norwich, Ian Dickson, who wore the chains of office in 1955/56.

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During the Second World War, she served with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force working in RAF intelligence and aerial reconnaissance.

After the war, she went back to her studies and gained a BA in sociology at Bedford College and took her MA at McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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She had a successful career at the John Lewis Partnership in London and worked for the company for seven years before returning to Norwich to help care for her parents.

Her job as the only paid member of staff involved the day to day running of the CAB in Norwich, arranging the training of its workers and enlisting the help of professional consultants.

Miss Dickson, who was also a keen artist, was appointed as a justice of the peace in 1970 and was the chairman of the East Anglian area of the National Association of the Citizens' Advice Bureau.

During her retirement party at the Vauxhall Centre in Norwich in December 1980, she was presented with DIY equipment by Dick Seabrook, senior advisor of the bureau, who said that rarely had any one individual made such a valuable contribution to the local community.

A civic reception was held in her honour a year later, where she was presented with gardening equipment and a painting brush. Standley Rushell, Norwich and District CAB chairman, praised the 'skill and natural inspiration' of Miss Dickson.

A statement from her family said: 'Her determination, intellect and strong personal values found other outlets too. She inherited her mother's talent and enthusiasm for painting and creative arts and she was an active participant in Norfolk and Norwich art circles. She read widely and her Latin and Greek classes ensured she kept her mind sharp right through to her final illness.'

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