Harrow County Staff

Mr. A. N. Anderson


I first met Norman in the Summer of 1975 when I was interviewed for the post of Art Teacher at what was to become Gayton High School in September 1976 and I owed my appointment to him. My first impressions of him were overwhelmingly positive as he was supportive, kind, helpful and, most importantly, a true mentor both professionally and as a friend.

Norman, who first came to the School in 1953, was someone who was extremely organised and, in these days of schemes of work, lesson plans etc., it is interesting to note that Norman had all of his lessons for a whole year planned in two or three student sketch books, which he would amend from time to time using a 2B pencil. This practice was thorough, imaginative and engaging for students and, most importantly, did not require sackloads of documentation to achieve.

Again, as Head of Year, and later as Deputy Headmaster, Norman was very on top of things and made sure that he had all necessary information pinned to a board in front of his desk in the then Arts Department stockroom. As an example of how important this board was to Norman, when at the height of the Jeremy Thorpe scandal I came into the stockroom and said, "Have you heard about Jeremy Thorpe?" he lowered his glasses, looked quizzically at the form lists in front of him and said, "Jeremy Thorpe? What class is he in?"

Norman's commitment to Art was manifest, both as a teacher and as a practising Artist of some repute. His move to Cott Farm and the creation of an Artists studio underlined his need to develop his own portfolio of work, and it was clear to all at School that Norman was eager to pursue this full time. His frustrtion was even greater when Beryl moved to Cott Farm full time and Norman had to zoom up and down the mororway in his Peugeot every week end.

After his retirement in 1980, my wife and I kept in close contact with Norman and Beryl, being good friends not only of them but of their three sons. Our abiding memory is of a devoted family man, proud of his sons and his grandchildren. Norman was a very humane person who quietly loved the world he lived in, always retained an enquiring mind and showed kindness and consideration to all he met. We shall miss him greatly, but retain fondest memories of a friend and colleague who lives on through Beryl and the Anderson clan.

John Cavanagh

And Don Wilkie writes:-

Norman took over the reins of the RAF section of the CCF when George Yelland departed. He had had plenty of experience of Air Force matters, having enlisted as a boy entrant at the RAF Apprentice School at Halton, presumably straight from school. This would normally have led to a a full service career but, after the war, Norman became "browned off", to use the expression current at the time, and left the RAF in favour of the art teaching career for which he was so well suited in every respect.

In his running of the RAF section, Norman was admirable and the cadets achieved great success in gaining certificates and winning the coveted flying scholarships.

Don McEwan and I both enjoyed a rare friendship with Norman, especially at annual camp when we spent a week each year at RAF stations in various parts of the country. We had the benefit of his keen aesthetic sense when we were able to visit such places as York and Bath, and many country churches.

From Old Gaytonian 2000 (Copies available from Colin Dickins - Colin@north-wood.demon.co.uk )

An earlier profile of Norman Anderson was published in Cadet in 1961:

Mr. Anderson, who took command of the Royal Air Force Section in 1959, is perhaps not so well known to the majority of boys in the school as are some of the other officers.  This is due to the fact that, as he teaches Art, only a small nu,ber of boys are actually taught by him.

Although by nature a quiet person, Mr. Anderson is capable of making those boys with whom he works give of their best.  I must emphasize that Mr. Anderson works with boys.  He hardly ever orders them to do anything, for as far as possible he likes the Senior N.C.O.s to run the Section by themselves.

Mr. Anderson joined the R.A.F, directly from school to train as an engineer, but unfortunately war was declared before his training was complete, and he was posted from Halton to Manby in Lincolnshire.  While at Manby he was asked to volunteer to go to Norway as a civilian to help the Norwegians.  However, before he could leave, Norway was invaded and the scheme was dropped.  Again he was posted overseas and this time the posting was cancelled while he was waiting to board the ship at Southampton.

Instead Mr. Anderson was sent to Henlow to form a Repair and Salvage Unit (R.S.U.) and eventually he left England to go to the Middle East.  However, the ship carrying his unit's equipment was sunk on the journey out and the unit was broken up, Mr. Anderson himself going to Port Sudan, where he helped service and repair aircraft for the Rhodesian and South African Air. Forces.

While at Port Sudan, Mr. Anderson, together with one of his friends, bought a canoe and became expert on catching fish in the Red Sea.  This not only served as a relaxation but also provided them with a welcome addition to their diet of local food which they both disliked intensely.

After a further two years Mr. Anderson was posted to No. 2 R.S.U. where he would often lead a small team of men into the desert to collect aircraft that had crash landed and take them back to his depot for repair.

His next move was to Taranto in Southern Italy, and his unit slowly advanced up the east coast.  He remembers very well the exacting conditions in which they had to work - grass airfields, insufficient accommodation and very little workshop space, and also the dramatic arrival of the Americans and how in only a few days concrete runways had been laid, enormous workshops had been erected and large American aircraft were everywhere.

Finally, in 1944, Mr. Anderson was posted home after having spent four-and-a-half years abroad.  He saw service at several stations in the British Isles, including one in Northern Ireland, before leaving the R.A.F. at the end of the war.

Having by that time decided that engineering was not for him,  Mr. Anderson decided to take up Art, which until then had only been a hobby, as a career, and, after training at Harrow and Hornsey, he joined our staff in 1953.

He still considers Art his hobby and is very pleased to be paid for doing something from which he derives so much pleasure.  So far he has had two exhibitions of his work in London and this year he is to be congratulated on again having one of his paintings hung in the Royal Academy.

Although very keen to join the C.C.F., he was asked to take a commission in the Army Section which he did very reluctantly, and like so many cadets he was very glad when a vacancy occurred in the R.A.F. Section and he could leave the Army.

Mr. Anderson has followed the example set by his predecessors in trying to create for the Section a character of its own.  He believes that the R.A.F. is unique in offering to boys not only instruction in drill and fieldcraft as found in the Army,  but also the chance of learning and eventually instructing others in more technical subjects.  

In Flight-Lieutenant  Anderson we have found a worthy successor to Flight-Lieutenant Yelland, one who will continue to provide boys with the opportunities fro leadership and responsibility, so helping them to become better equipped for whatever they decide to do in later life.

J. F. Deakin.

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