Solicitor Norman Hart succeeds Roger Norris, Durham’s Cathedral former deputy librarian, who stepped down in the summer after 20 years in the chair.
Seventy-one-year-old Mr Hart was, until he retired two years ago, a partner in the firm of BHP Law where he spent most of his working life.
The son of a GP, he was born in Salford and arrived in Durham in 1948 after spending the previous two years in Dumfriesshire. He attended Durham Chorister School as a day-boy and switched to Durham School at the age of 13, where he followed his many sporting interests.
He went on to study at Durham University’s St Cuthbert’s Society and left with a BA. It was while at university that he first took an interest in the law – benefiting from the encouragement of one of his tutors, Dr Leo Blair, a barrister whose son Tony went on to become Prime Minister.
On leaving university he became an articled clerk with a Darlington firm of solicitors and after qualifying he joined L.J.Heron and Company, later to become Burt, Hart and Pratt and now known as BHP Law.
During his long legal career Mr Hart was appointed Durham’s Deputy Coroner, for ten years working in support of the firm’s then senior partner, Lance Heron, who filled the lead role.
He has been vice chairman of Finchale Training College for many years, has been a trustee of the Durham Union Society, has sat on two health service trusts, as well as on the Abbeyfield Society and has been a Rotarian for many years.
His wife Jennifer, a doctor, worked at Dryburn and Chester-le-Street Hospitals and the couple, who live in Durham, have two daughters and four grandchildren.
Gardening remains a keen interest but five years ago he finally surrendered his interest in motor sport when he sold his rare 1936 MG racing car. It was not licensed for the road and he drove it at Brooklands and Croft when occasion allowed. Earlier this year it featured at the Goodwood Festival and before that had appeared on television, in one of the Father Brown series.