Norman Dewis Day – 26th May 2013


Norman DewisTB1 A celebration of Norman’s life and achievements – so far! 

Held at the Mike Hawthorn Museum by kind invitation of Nigel Webb

I was honoured to be invited to this unique Jaguar event, which was by invitation only.

Arriving just before 10am, there was already a buzz of activity, and a general impression that things had been well organized, as I was efficiently directed away from the classic Jaguar parking, and the non-Jaguar parking to the modern Jaguar parking area!

The invitation list was impressive, and some of the guests are listed below:

JAGUAR ELITE


Sir William Lyon’s Grandson snaps a shot of Norman Dewis, with Paul Skilleter,  Nigel Webb & XJ13 in the background

 

 


Neil McPherson and Tony Duckhouse of Jaguar Heritage relax during one of the breaks

 


I was proud to be introduced to many Jaguar people, including George Buck, a long-standing member of the experimental engine team – PS1

XJ13

NUB120

MDU212

774RW

77RW

P60XJS

 

Alan Hodge (Jaguar Cars Global Exhibition Manager)

George Buck (Jaguar engineering – retired)

Graham Searle (JEC General Manager)

Jonathan Partridge (Jaguar Heritage PR Manager)

Letitia Mace (Xclusively Jaguar & JEC Events Committee)

Michael Quinn (grandson of Sir William Lyons)

Neil McPherson (Jaguar Heritage)

Nigel Webb (our host)

Norman Dewis (man of the day!)

Paul Skilleter (renowned Jaguar author, journalist and historian)

Pete Simkin (Jaguar ETO Director)

Philip Porter (renowned Jaguar author, journalist and historian)

Rebecca Gibbs (Jaguar World Monthly)

Roger Gage (JEC Racing)

Sue Hedley (former JEC Chairwoman)

Terry Dye (JEC Racing)

Tony Duckhouse (Jaguar Heritage Trustee)

Tony O’keeffe (Jaguar Heritage Communications Officer)

Trevor Williams (TWRR)

Win Percy (Jaguar Racing Driver) unable to attend due to ill health

As Nigel’s rather expansive garden began to fill up with Jaguars of all kinds, there was plenty to explore, classic and modern, concour’s and racing, original and replica, and all immaculately turned out! The Mike Hawthorn Museum was open to view, and Nigel’s own Jaguars had a dedicated display area.

Regular JEC Racing competitor, Kevin Zwolinski, Jaguar ETO (Engineered to order) Director, Pete Simkin and Sir William Lyons grandson, Michael Quinn, are seen here outside the Mike Hawthorn Museum with the first disc-braked C-type MDU212, which won at Reims with Sir Stirling Moss.

Norman Dewis with our host, Nigel Webb
The real business of the day started at 11am, and after a few minor hitches with the microphone which caused great amusement and a few saucy comments, Norman spoke tirelessly of the stuff that made Jaguar history until 12.30, resuming at 1.30pm after a break for lunch. By 3pm he was still only two thirds of the way through his amazing recollections of what made Jaguar what it is, and after another 1 hour break he resumed again at 4pm, finally finishing at 5.30pm. Four and a half hours, and a potted history of Jaguar, interspersed with hearty refreshments, generously provided by Nigel Webb at no cost to those invited!

Norman Dewis with author, Paul Skilleter
Many of the anecdotes quoted, and references made by Norman on the day, are recorded in his book “Norman Dewis of Jaguar – Developing the Legend” copies of which were available to buy on the day. This book was written by well known Jaguar author and historian, Paul Skilleter with Norman Dewis, as Paul recognised the need to record the memories of Jaguar’s longstanding former chief test driver, who was so obviously at the very hub of Jaguar’s development programme for many years.

TB2
The marquee in which Norman’s presentation took place comfortably seated around 200 guests, with the ample array of food at the far end.
On entering the marquee, on the left hand side was a large “poster” on an easel, signed first by Norman, and to which we were all invited to sign our names.
The seats lined the left hand side of the marquee and looking down the right hand side was a potted history of Jaguar by car ….XJ13, NUB120, 77RW, 774RW, P60XJS and so on.
Overwhelming, to say the very least!
 

Nigel Webb thanked everyone for helping him to get everything in place and stage such a wonderful event, but in fact, we are all indebted to him for having the courage to put together a memorable day worthy of being recorded in Jaguar history!
 

Nothing had been left to chance, with an XJ13 cake, commemorative napkins, and even perfect weather – probably the most difficult thing to arrange!
Thanks must, of course, go to Norman, star of the show, who despite a gruelling day of speeches, signing autographs and photo shoots, was bearing up well!

TB3

Nigel and his team, which included his Chief Engineer, Carl Gannon, and Carl’s girlfriend, Michele, worked tirelessly throughout the day, following months of planning, to make the event a success.

 

At the end of the day, as everyone dispersed we were engulfed in the glorious sound of Jaguar engines. Then a lull, as the last few enthusiasts drifted away, followed by Nigel’s team and Jaguar Heritage volunteers dismantling the display and removing the iconic Jaguars from the marquee. The most amazing sound suddenly came from the marquee, and a hunch told me this MUST be XJ13, so I rushed along to look at a sight not often seen ….. XJ13 in action!
Brucie with XJ13 As XJ13 stood in the parking area, waiting to be loaded onto the transporter, I saw an opportunity for a picture of Brucie with the God of Jaguars, so rapidly sprung into action to record the moment!
The perfect end to a perfect day !!!

Report and pictures by Letitia Mace, with many thanks to Paul Skilleter for picture PS1, and Tony Bailey for pictures TB1, TB2 & TB3

All information correct at time of publishing.

 

Norman Dewis of Jaguar – Developing the Legend

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