Norma Notley OAM – Eulogy
by Neville Tomkins, OAM, JP
Chief Commissioner, Scouts NSW
Thursday 20 October 2022
On behalf of her many Scouting friends across NSW, I express our heartfelt condolences to Norma’s extended family on her passing.
The Chief Scout of NSW and State Governor, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC, well remembers Norma. She too extends her sincere condolences.
• We have all lost a great Scouter.
• We have all lost a great stalwart of the Scout ethos, and
• We have all lost a dear friend.
I start with a quote from the founder of the World Scout Movement, Lord Baden-Powell, whose teachings influenced how Norma developed as a leader, and how she gave so much back to her community.
“no one can pass through life any more than they can pass through a bit of country, without leaving tracks behind,
And those tracks may often be helpful to those coming after him in finding their way”.
Norma left not just tracks for us all to follow, but she left a legacy:
• A legacy for Sandra, David, Keith, Lyle, and Colleen, as well as their respective partners.
• A legacy for Norma’s eight grandchildren and her fourteen great-grandchildren.
• A legacy for the thousands of youth members and leaders Norma coached through the Scout program.
So, let us celebrate today Norma’s extraordinary Scouting achievements…
Norma’s Scouting journey
For close to a record 70 years, Norma served as a dedicated leader of Scouts NSW, almost exclusively with the 1st North Ryde Scout Group.
For over 40 of those years, Norma was also a member of the St George’s Guild in Sydney
• And was still having monthly Group meetings at her home until recently. Scouting was so much part of Norma’s life and Norma was so much part of the Scouting life,
• And how privileged we are that Norma’s family chose to proudly emboss today’s service sheet with the Scout logo.
Norma first became an Assistant Cub Scout Leader with the 1st North Ryde Cub Pack in 1954,
• And was still an honorary leader with that same group at the time of her passing. At different times, Norma served as the Group Leader, Group public relations officer, and Group advisor.
• She also accepted appointments at the District Scout level.
For her extraordinary service to Scouts, Norma received many prestigious awards, including the Silver Emu in 2017, the second-highest award in Scouts Australia for active leaders, for distinguished service.
Such was our respect for Norma that the 1st North Ryde Scout hall was renamed in her and Shirley Brown’s honour, in June 2019.
To our delight, Norma was honoured by the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia with the medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) on the Queen’s birthday 2021. The citation simply read for “service to youth
through Scouts”. That said it all!
Our State Governor well remembers presenting the award to Norma, in fact, the photo of the investiture features on the back of today’s service sheet. On learning that Norma had just celebrated her 100th birthday, Her Excellency invited all present at the Government House ceremony to sing “happy birthday”, and they did so with much pride and gusto. Clearly a momentous occasion for Norma, Norma’s family, and for the many gathered at Government House.
I had the privilege of presenting Norma with the Chief Commissioner’s certificate of appreciation on 30 January 2021 to coincide with her 100th birthday.
• On that day, over 100 Scouts, leaders, supporters, and friends gathered outside her home to sing happy birthday and to give her a huge B-R-A-V-O-O-O.
• The happy occasion was prominently reported on the front page of “The Weekly Times”.
• And it was the only time in living memory that the police closed her street for a community event.
Norma was a legend. She was also an inspiration to us – youth members, adult leaders and supporters alike.
• Her passion for Scouting, her dedication to her youth members and leaders, and her belief in the values of Scouting were extraordinary.
As Norma’s District Commissioner ( Moocooboolah), Cameron Jessop, said at Norma’s OAM celebration, and I quote:
• “Norma is the epitome of the Scouting spirit. She was never happier than when she was doing something with her family, or with her second family, the Scouting movement…
• Norma could regale you with many tales of her life in Scouting. You could see the sparkle in her eyes when she was talking of events when she had been helping others… You will not meet a sweeter lady.”
Her many other Scouting friends (especially in the St George’s Guild in Sydney) remember Norma as a gentle soul, a Scouter who loved a party and to have a laugh, a determined and resilient lady.
• A person who never gave up.
o Every Monday night she would lead her Cub Pack without fail.
o Even when there was only one Cub left, she would still deliver the program, and then had the satisfaction of rejuvenating the youth numbers to impressive levels
o Such was the character of the person. Such was her belief in what the Scout program could do for the young people in her community.
• An exceptional person who lived through the second great war (including the Japanese infiltration of Sydney Harbour), the great depression, and the more recent Covid pandemic.
When Norma passed away on Tuesday morning 11 October at the grand age of 101 years and 8 months, she held the record as the oldest Scouter in Australia.
• She was also one of the longest-serving leaders in the history of Scouts NSW. A long life well lived!
Indeed, Norma’s passing marks the end of an era for Scouts Australia, and for Scouts NSW.
I finish as I started, and that is with a quote from our founder, a quote that, I believe, epitomises Norma for her extraordinary commitment to Scouting:
“try and leave this world a little better than you found it,
And when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate, you … have done your best”.
Vale Norma Joan Notley OAM! A true Scout. Our legend. Our hero. A Scout who lived every aspect of her life according to the Scout promise and law.
In the ultimate of our worldwide Scouting traditions, our dear friend, Norma, has now “gone home”.
May her soul rest in eternal peace.