20 April 1949 – 15 January 2016
Gary Rodgers (Family)
Norman Bailey was a man of many different talents, there will be many different memories of Norman, many different stories to share. I’d like to share a little bit of the Norman Bailey I knew.
We first met in 1984, when my girlfriend, Maureen, brought me along to the family home, in Brunswick Road. It was there I met her mum Phyllis, and her big brother Norman. Sadly, I never met their Dad, Clifford had died some years before. Anne was off enjoying married life with John, at that time. I found out later, that Anne, John, & I had met more than 10 years before, back in the early 1970’s, through a common interest in motorcycles. The Bailey Family & I go back quite a while.
I don’t recall there being a lot conversation from Norman that night, I guess that’s where he and Maureen really differed. But he was very like me at that time, neither of us tended to use a whole string of words, when one would do. I realised, also like me at that time, Norman was a very private person. As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy getting to know the real Norman.
But as time passed, and as I got to know Maureen, I also got to know Norman. The fact that Maureen was quite comfortable talking about resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, Hornby Dublo, N & O gauge, Terry Pratchett, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Moog Synthesisers, Rick Wakeman, Pink Floyd, ELO, the phonetic alphabet, and had spent a weekend undersealing her bright yellow MK1 Escort, gave me a clue into Norman’s interests, and the impact he had on his sisters’ lives. Norman really was the big brother, and Maureen and Anne both looked up to him.
As it turned out, Norman & I shared many common traits. Neither of us wanted to go to Bangor Grammar, so we had the good fortune of going to Bangor Technical College, directly from primary school. We also shared an interest in Amateur Radio and we got our Radio licences by doing the City & Guilds exam, at Bangor Technical. We both worked in the Electronic Engineering & Telecoms Industries. We both enjoyed working at old cars. We’d both been part of the Stock Car Racing era at Clandeboye Park in the 1970’s, although we didn’t know each other then. But as many will know, Norman’s greatest interest was model railways. I didn’t really share this interest, at that time. I’ll leave that part of Norman’s life for others to tell.
First Bangor Presbyterian Church also played a major part in Norman’s life, from an early age. A photograph I saw recently of Norman, Paul Rea, Ron or Robert Crangle, and others at Ganaway, in 1973, made me realise the long association Norman had, with the Church family of First Bangor. Many in First Bangor will know Norman for his lighting and sound skills, which were put to good use for well over 40 years, during the pantomimes and other events in the Guild Hall. Although Norman enjoyed putting the spotlight on those on stage, he never wanted to be in the spotlight himself, he was a very private and humble person, content with being backstage, out of the public eye, just doing the things he did, really well.
Norman was also a very private person in his faith and Christian beliefs. He wasn’t one for standing in the street, giving out tracts, and professing his beliefs, but he clearly demonstrated his strong Christian values in the way he led his life, humbly and with humility, with love for his family and his friends, and in the way he would go to the assistance of others, in need of help. Norman would always put the needs of family, friends, and others, before his own needs, when it came to helping out.
In the last couple of years Norman became more like a big brother to me, as well. When Maureen died in 2013, both Norman and Anne made it very clear to me that I wasn’t to be a stranger in the Bailey family, they both looked upon me as part of the family, like a brother. Norman also invited me along to the First Bangor Model Railway Club meetings on Wednesday nights, and to his Sunday night railway get-togethers, in his workshop. Even though he knew I wasn’t really involved with model railway at that time, he knew the benefit of being in the company of others, and he wasn’t going to leave me on my own.
Norman was always happy to provide a taxi service to family and friends. Norman and John Pollock collected me at the airport last June, when I returned from holiday. Norman listened quietly as I shared my holiday experiences with them. A few days later I found out that Norman had cancer. He’d been told the previous week but didn’t want to dampen my holiday experience. Norman was that sort of person.
Anne & I were told that Norman might have as little as 6 months left to live. Last September it looked like that time would be cut short, when he was admitted to hospital with septicaemia. Norman wasn’t one to give up easily and although seriously eakened he returned home to Brunswick Road, where he was supported, and cared for, by Anne.
During the last number of months many will have had the blessing of sharing time, and memories, with Norman, a s he lived out his remaining days with dignity. It’s been during those months that I’ve seen Norman’s strength of character being upheld, and supported, by his strong Christian beliefs.
Throughout this time of illness, I’ve seen the love and support that Anne, John, Adam, Cathy, and Jamie, had for Norman, and for each other. I’ve seen the love of Norman’s extended family, his Church family, and his friends, as they shared memories, and time, with him. I’ve seen the love of Mairisine Stanfield, David Stanfield, and Stuart McCrea, as they ministered, and gave pastoral care, to Norman. Throughout this time of illness, I’ve seen God’s love for Norman, as He brought all those people together in Norman’s life, to give him the support needed, at this time.
Norman was a very private man, and throughout this time of illness I prayed that God would give him the strength to get through each day, that he had here with us. I saw those prayers answered as Norman lived out his time, with dignity.
Norman passed away on Friday 15th January around 2:40 pm, peacefully, with dignity, and with close family present. Norman was like a big brother to me, and a blessing in my life.
I, like many others, will miss him deeply. As we mourn his passing and as we grieve, each in our own way, my prayer for each of us, would be that we would know the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives, a peace that transcends all human understanding, a peace that can bring healing to the hurt, and the pain, in our lives.
Last Easter I had the blessing of sharing, with our Church Family, a little bit of the story of “what brought me to First Bangor Presbyterian Church”. I’ve now been able to share a little bit more of that story, and Norman’s part in that story.
God Bless him.Gary Rodgers.
The Japanese have a term, kenzoku, (pronounced ken-zo-ku) which translated literally means “family.” The connotation suggests a bond between people who’ve made a similar commitment and who possibly therefore share a similar destiny. It implies the presence of the deepest connection of friendship, of lives lived as comrades.
Many of us have people in our lives with whom we feel the bond described by the word kenzoku. They may be family members, a mother, a father, a brother, a daughter, a cousin or a friend from school. Time and distance do nothing to diminish the bond we have with these kinds of friends. But when you find these people, these kenzoku, they’re like priceless gems – friends for ever.
Norman and I had that kenzoku bond, I could talk to him for hours and tell him thin
For over 60 years I knew Norman and throughout that time it was my privilege to call him one of my best friends – or as they say down under “a real fair dinkum mate”.
I would like to relate one short fact about Norman that very few people would know – he took for ever to make a decision. On one particular occasion, Norman and I were having a cup of tea in the kitchen at Brunswick Road when his Mum and Dad and the two girls had gone over in Wales on holiday.
Now Norman always talked about installing a new kitchen for his Mum & Dad, knocking down the wall between the existing kitchen and scullery turning them into one room but he had just never got round to making the decision to do so. That decision to renovate came sooner than he expected – at the back door was a spade he had been using in the garden, those of you who know me, know that I am a bit impulsive, so picking up the spade, I stuck it through the ceiling of the kitchen leaving a big hole in it.
“We’ll have to do it now” I said and the look on Norman’s face had to be seen to be believed – utter shock. Before the night was over, the kitchen was stripped down to the bare brickwork with all the units out in the carport, all that was left was a pile of rubble in the middle of the floor.
With the help of family and a great bunch of friends including the girlfriends who helped clean up the house after we had left dust everywhere, the kitchen was completed with about 1 hour to spare before the family returned home. The look on his parent’s faces when they walked in the back door made the whole exercise well worth the effort and I think quietly Norman was a very proud son that day. This is just one of the many memories I will cherish about Norman.
Unfortunately we now have to farewell him and if I can compare our lives to a marathon race, Norman crossed the finish line last Friday afternoon. Yes, he will be sadly missed by everyone here today, both his family and friends but he has left us all with personal lasting memories that we will cherish for ever.
I am sure there are a few of my other friends here today to farewell Norman, I wish I could be there with you all, but in reality I cannot. I will however will be raising a glass to celebrate a lifetime of friendship that Norman and I shared together, one that I would not change for anything.
Poro poro aki (farewell in Maori) my old friend – I will miss you
Ian Sinclair (Friend)
Obituary published in The Hornby Railway Collector, Issue 511, March 2016
It was with much sadness that I learnt of the passing of my good friend, Norman Bailey (from Bangor, Co. Down) on 15th January at the relatively young age of 66. I met Norman many years ago through our mutual interest in railways, both miniature and full-size. Although I had been dabbling in model railways since my teens, it was through Norman that I was introduced to the world of collecting and I quickly came to appreciate the vintage models produced by firms like Hornby and Wrenn.
Norman’s interest in model railways began as a child in the 1950s with a Hornby O-gauge clockwork train set but he soon graduated to Hornby Dublo 3-rail. By the time I got to know Norman, some twenty years ago, he had amassed a sizeable collection and his huge 2-rail and 3-rail loose-lay layout was established as a major attraction at First Bangor Model Railway Club’s annual exhibition. At the Club’s Christmas show, Norman would usually put on a display of his Hornby O-gauge trains and other tinplate toys.
Over the years, Norman’s collection and layout continued to grow. Indeed Norman seemed to be like a magnet to Hornby Dublo! There seemed to be few local exhibitions that he would go to and not come away with more additions to his collection. Someone would invariably come into the hall with a box of trains – frequently Dublo – saying that it had been lying in the attic for years and did anyone know of anyone who might be interested in it? More often than not it went home to Bangor with Norman.
I remember being with Norman at a small model railway exhibition in Comber, Co. Down. Another gentleman had a small 3-rail Dublo layout on display and the comment was made to Norman that he now had some competition. “That’s no comgs and he would never judge me. Despite living over 12500 miles away in New Zealand, we never lost contact. When Anne and I were home in Bangor we would drop up to Brunswick Road where the Bailey family always made us feel very welcomepetition for me” he said jokingly, “I’ll have bought him out by the end of the show!” By closing time, he had struck a deal with the gentleman and, again, the collection went home with Norman!
Around twelve years ago, Norman found that single-handedly setting up his Dublo layout over three or four days – it now measured around 30 feet by 8 feet –operating it on his own for a day and a half, then dismantling it and taking it home was becoming too much of a strain for him. So, sadly it was retired but by now Norman had built 2-rail and 3-rail replica shop display layouts which he used keep the Dublo flag flying a various exhibitions. He also managed to acquire a few original shop display layouts.
As well as collecting, Norman was also a very accomplished modeller. With his friend, John Pollock, they built a massive O-gauge finescale exhibition layout, DCC controlled and measuring around 36 feet by 14 feet. It is one of the finest O-gauge layouts I have seen at an exhibition anywhere in the British Isles. Like his earlier Dublo layout, it became a major attraction at the First Bangor MRC exhibitions and the Model Railway Day at the nearby Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.
Norman was a very generous man, always putting others before himself even during his recent illness and this was reflected in his approach to his hobby. He often helped other modellers with less experience to build or wire their layouts, or maybe repairing their locomotives or fitting them with DCC chips.
He was a very popular figure in railway modelling circles in Northern Ireland and with those modellers he met from further afield and this was reflected in the large turnout at Norman’s funeral. He will be badly missed by all who knew him and the First Bangor MRC exhibitions will never be the same again.
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