Tributes to an ‘inspirational and talented’ man

Norman Taylor, High Peak sports personality and journalist
Norman Taylor, High Peak sports personality and journalist

THE HIGH Peak sporting community has come together to pay heartfelt tributes to popular sports journalist Norman Taylor, who died last week at the age of 76.

Buxton resident Norman, formerly of Taddington, passed away peacefully at Macclesfield Hospital on Friday. He had bravely battled cancer for a number of years.

A former LMS engine driver and newspaper sports editor, he had worked as a sports reporter and presenter for High Peak Radio for the past eight years and was a familiar figure at sports grounds across the area.

The station’s News Editor Holly Knebel said: “There is a great sense of loss here at High Peak Radio. Norman joined the team in the very beginning in 2004 and has been a firm friend and colleague ever since.

“He was an inspiration, his knowledge of sport was incredible and he was such a talented man – we all have Norman Taylor pictures and caricatures - and it is through these that his memory will live on.

“He would often turn down professional matches to report on the muddy clashes of local amateur fixtures, and of course revelled in the opportunity to commentate live from Wembley when Glossop North End made it to final of the FA Vase.

“He was a pleasure to be around and we are all so proud to have known him and been part of his life. We’re sure everyone in the High Peak and Hope Valley will miss the sound of his voice on the airwaves as much as we will.”

Norman worked as a train driver in his early years – he is thought to be one of the last to train on steam trains.

The ex-footplateman later joined the Buxton Advertiser’s sister newspaper the Matlock Mercury, retiring in 1999 after ten years as sports editor, before going on to join the newly-formed High Peak Radio.

Danny Cammiade, Chief Operating Officer of the newspapers’ owners Johnston Press, said: “Norman to me represented everything that is good about truly local journalism: unlimited enthusiasm and knowledge of local sport and its impact on the community.

“I remember the great pride he had in the Matlock Mercury and its sports pages, as well as his legendary sense of fun. From my time in Derbyshire I know what a very popular colleague he was.”

A keen athlete, Norman played football and cricket as a junior and had formerly been a member of Buxton Cycling Club. He was a veteran runner and took part in numerous marathons and running events – including his first London Marathon at the age of 42.

As one of the founding members of Buxton & District Athletic Club, and the founding father of the club’s juniors, formerly known as the ‘T-Squad’, Norman’s positive influence has been felt in the club, and the athletics community, for over 30 years.

Having designed the club logo, Norman continued his association by becoming club president. He had coached numerous local athletes to international standard.

Club chairman Nigel Critchlow said: “Whether racing or coaching, his support for every athlete he met was inspirational, and many of our club benefited from his expertise.

“His commentary on both the Buxton Carnival “5”, and the Buxton Half Marathon, was always a big factor in what made these races special, and will be greatly missed.

“Norman’s wit and dry humour endeared him to everyone he met, he had a story for every occasion, as well as a sketch! Thanks for everything Norman, we’ll never forget you.”

His immense dedication to sport saw him named East Midlands Sporting Personality of the Year in 1988, and the veteran sports reporter was also honoured by High Peak Borough Council for his services to local sport in 2008.

Norman’s funeral will take place at St John’s Church, Buxton, on Wednesday May 9 at 11.30am, followed by committal at Macclesfield Crematorium.