George Brereton: Drove Norwich Union’s motor business into the country’s second biggest insurer

George and Vera Brereton celebrate thier Diamond Wedding anniversary at thier Taverham home.Photo: S

George and Vera Brereton celebrate thier Diamond Wedding anniversary at thier Taverham home.Photo: Simon FinlayCopy: Caroline JenkinsonFor: EEN NewsEDP pics © 2006(01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2006

A former senior executive with Norwich Union, George Brereton, who has died aged 92, presided over the group's dramatic growth in car insurance.

He retired after 43 years as the first head of the motor account for the insurance giant, now Aviva, in 1981.

In his time, it became the country's second largest motor insurer as premium income rose from £7m in 1969 to £160m.

George William Brereton was born in Cambridge Street, Norwich, to parents, who ran a greengrocer's shop in the city.

Later, they bought a smallholding in Hellesdon, now part of the grounds of Hellesdon High School.

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His parents lived in the last pair of houses, which stood just before the Royal Norwich Golf Club's course. They grew vegetables and kept pigs and chickens.

At the age of seven, he started at Bracondale School, which was popular with many farmers' sons.

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In 1938, he joined Norwich Union's head office burglary department in Surrey Street as a junior clerk after gaining his School Certificate.

Rejected on medical grounds from military service because of a childhood illness, which had damaged his hearing, he was not even allowed to join what became the Home Guard. However, he did carry out fire-watching duties.

In 1969, he became the first home motor manager for the combined insurers, Norwich Union Fire and Scottish Union and National Insurance Company, having held other posts over the years.

His other responsibilities included Thatcham Research, which had been established in 1969 by motor insurers to improve vehicle safety and security.

A fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute since 1949, he has served the institute as a lecturer, examination tutor and examiner.

He is a former chairman of the eastern region of the British Insurance Association and a vice- president of the Insurance Institute of Norwich.

He captained the NU's 1st XI until 1953, playing on the wing, and also the table tennis team as well as playing cricket.

He bred and showed dachshunds and was heavily involved with Norwich Opera Club, holding senior roles including as chairman.

His other love was growing vegetables.

He turned part of the garden of their home at Taverham, which had a south-facing slope, into a vegetable plot growing produce for the table while his wife, Vera, who was an enthusiastic flower arranger, grew assorted blooms.

She had been one of four founders of Drayton Flower Club in about 1970.

In retirement, they started a business selling antiques, specialising in silverware.

They attended antique fairs and events across the region for about 20 years.

He had frequently attended sales at Aylsham over many years to acquire stock.

His wife, who was born and brought up in Diss, moved to Norwich, during the war.

They met and later married in 1946 and were sent official greetings by the Queen to mark their diamond wedding in 2006. Vera died in February 2012, shortly after their 66th wedding anniversary.

He leaves a son, Graham, and daughter, Janice, and five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at St Margaret's Church, Drayton, on Tuesday, January 7, at 10.15am followed by cremation at St Faith's Crematorium.

Michael Pollitt

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