Norman Dewis: A Personal View


 

Having dinner in Norway with a group of Jaguar friends, which included Gier and Kari Folke-Olsen, we received the very sad news from Tony O’keeffe that Norman had passed away peacefully 20 minutes previously. It represented the end of an era, a legend …. and it changed the mood of the evening as we reflected on our memories of Norman.

 

 

Back in 2006, I was simply a Jaguar owner with no real connection to Jaguar when my eldest daughter, Esta-jane Middling (nee Mace) was accepted as a Jaguar apprentice and became a volunteer at Jaguar Heritage. Meeting Norman for the first time, she approached him tentatively and requested an autograph for me, her Mum. A copy of the Jaguar Heritage magazine with XJ13 as centre spread was duly sourced by Julia Simpson and Tony O’keeffe, signed by Norman and handed to Esta-jane. At that time, never did I dream that Norman would become a friend of mine in his final years!

 

The opportunity to meet Norman for the first time came in 2012 when I was asked to organise an XJ220 Anniversary Celebration at Weston Park. I invited Norman as one of the VIP guests who was involved in Project XJ220.
I listened with interest as Norman Dewis and Win Percy reminisced over their various motoring exploits and then asked them if they would agree to be patrons of Xclusively Jaguar, to which they both agreed, so  Xclusively Jaguar has now sadly lost one of its founder patrons.

Picture courtesy of Tony Bailey

Norman Dewis Then in 2013 I had the privilage of attending Norman Dewis Day – a very special event which was by invitation only. High profile attendees included Paul Skilleter, who had a number of Norman’s books with him, so I purchased one and asked Norman if he would sign it, which he did, saying ‘Is that OK for you?’

Picture courtesy of Tony Bailey

 

Shortly after this I phoned Norman and arranged to meet him at his home. We spent time in his den discussing the history of Jaguar, then he took me out to dinner, even at the age of 93 he drove his XF safely, but with real spirit, shall we say? This visit formed the basis of a feature in Xclusively Jaguar News called Norman Dewis and a prelude to the first E-type test drive

Meeting up with Norman then became a regular occurrance, as I became more and more involved with Jaguar.

In 2015, Mark 1 Day was shortly after Brucie’s 18th birthday, and what better way to celebrate an important landmark such as this, than with the signature of Jaguar’s former Chief Test Engineer, as recorded in Brucie’s Diary: April 2015

 

Many more happy times were spent with Norman in the final years of his long and productive life, a few of which are recorded in the pictures below.

The day before we left for Norway, Tony O’keeffe had told us that Norman was very poorly, and said that he did not have long.

I had just finished doing a presentation on Xclusively Jaguar for the Norsk Jaguar Klubb, which naturally included many pictures of Norman, when we received the sad news.

 

RIP Norman, dear friend – you’ve left us with many happy memories!

 

Pictures courtesy of Nigel Thorley, Paul Skilleter, Sam Frost and Tony Bailey, with grateful thanks

 

Norman’s Trust Fund will be held open until 3rd August 2019, which would have been Norman’s 99th birthday. All monies held in the Trust Fund will then be donated to Hope House Hospice, as was Norman’s wish. We hope you will all give generously.