Norman Donkin MBE
Gentlemen Freemen and member of the Joiners Guild
16 December 1918 - 22 October 2015
Norman Donkin, who has died aged 96 was born in Gilesgate and moved to Crossgate when he was about 6 years old. He attended the Blue Coat School and excelled in sport, particularly football. He could have made a professional career in football if it had not been for the war, where he served in the 35th Tank Brigade and and was part of the Expeditionary force that was eventually evacuated from Dunkirk. He also saw active service in North Africa where he was besieged at Tobruk and eventually took part in the D-Day landing.
He served his time as a carpenter with George Snowball, whose workshops were situated in Reform Place in the City. After the war, Norman continued to work as a carpenter and joiner with Bell and Ridely in Durham
Norman married Ada and they had one daughter, Joan.
The church was an important part of Norman’s life. He had been a member of the St. Margaret’s congregation for 90 years where he was a churchwarden and served on the Parochial Church Council on many occasions. His association with the church started at Sunday School and later within the Church Lads Brigade, under the leadership of Mr. Battensby. He fought avidly for women’s ordination and was proud when his daughter Rev. Joan Donkin was the first woman priest to celebrate communion at St Margarets.
In recognition of his long service with the Church Lads Brigade, he was made a Mayors Bodyguard in 1963, where he became its longest serving member when he retired after 45 years and on his retirement he was made an Honorary Member. He was also an active member of the Forces Club in Durham.
Norman was awarded a MBE in 2001 for his service to the City of Durham, in particular in recognition of his long service as a Mayoral Bodyguard.
In the same year, Norman was also sworn in as a Gentlemen Freemen and member of the Joiners Guild.
Norman lived a rich life in the service of others; he was a generous, kind and intelligent man always with a smile and alert to the very last. He will be sorely missed and the Freemen offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
Norman Donkin, Gentleman Freeman and Mayoral Bodyguard Born 16th December 1918 died 22nd October 2015