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Norman Brown former District Officer
Forestry Memories
No: 4089   Contributor: Norman Davidson   Year: 2011
Norman Brown former District Officer

The image and story is from Peebles Life publication circa 2011 which featured from time to time a ‘Portrait of a Town Personality’.

Norman was based as a junior District Officer at Glentress Forest Office at the Camp from 1954 and then as the Senior District officer. Unfortunately his postings following Glentress are not yet to hand. His story is as told in the publication is below:

‘It is always surprising how many local residents have been involved in momentous occasions, both nationally and internationally, and this month's Portrait. Norman Brown, is no exception, having flown Spitfires during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War.
Born in Edinburgh in 1919, Norman grew up with his two brothers whilst his father worked as Treasurer for the Church of Scotland General Trustees. He remarks that as his mother was disabled, he was able to cook a full three course meal by the age of 12, something which has stood him in good stead. His schooling mainly took place at George Heriot's where he joined the Officer Training Corps and was in the school shooting team, travelling to Bisley to enter the national finals. He also enjoyed golf and boxing though his passion has always been fishing. Norman notes that it is now 84 years since he caught his first brown trout.

In August 1939, Norman joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve. Just a few weeks later on 3rd September, war was declared and Norman began his RAF training, first on the south coast of England, before being transferred to the Derby area and then finally to Chester learning to fly Miles Magisters and then Miles Masters. Following this Norman was commissioned as a pilot officer and sent to Hawarden for Spitfire training. Pre war this had lasted for six months, but by the time Norman arrived it had been reduced to 1 week and he is still clearly moved by the Spitfire, a plane he describes as a wonderful machine Selected to join Fighter Command, in his own words 'because you had to be a little daft to do that", Norman saw action not least during the Battle of Britain which he describes as very hectic, very frightening and very exhausting though he remarks that he was fortunate to share the experience with the finest people you could ever hope to meet.

In 1943, Norman met Sheila, to whom he was married for just short of 60 years, and with whom he had three children, lan, Peter and Elizabeth. The family has now grown to include 6 grandchildren and 10 great ¬grandchildren, spread from Edinburgh to Canada to Texas. He returned to his first love of forestry and horticulture, graduating from Edinburgh University and joining the Forestry Commission as a District Officer. His work covered most of the Borders and some of the Lothians and Norman was keen that the planting should be varied and aesthetically pleasing rather than the more easily harvested solid blocks of single species that were common at the time. He seems to have been a little ahead of his time with this but he is clear that he was not the only one advocating this policy.

Even in his nineties, Norman still manages to indulge his passion for fishing, running a small loch near Melrose, and sitting on the Tweed Commissioner Board - he thinks he may retire from this in a couple of years but I wouldn't count on it! He is also an Honorary President of the Peebles Branch of the British Legion a Life Member of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association and, for the last few years, has laid the wreath at the memorial in Moffat to Lord Dowding, chief of Fighter Command in 1940, as well as attending other memorial services, the length and breadth of the country.

Turning to the town of Peebles, where he has made his home since 1954, Norman thinks it is a wonderful place, what with the wide High Street, the river, trees, hills and golf course and the very friendly population. He is however a little concerned at the new developments, remarking that it is sad to see so much of the green space being built on and that there is a danger the town will lose its essence. As for improvements, Norman would like some more disabled parking spaces on the High Street as it is the "very devil" getting parked! Within the town, as with many Portraits before him, Norman suggests that Peter Norris is someone he admires for all the good work he does.

Finally we turn to the one thing people don't know about him where, with a cheeky smile, Norman states that no-one knows what a damn rogue he is!’

Any further details of Districts that Norman worked in would be very welcome.
Picture added on 15 May 2018 at 08:31
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