Norma Raynes (Fellows 2009) interviewed by James Sevitt

Published on by rothschild

On Childhood

Norma was born in a convent in Salford (near manchester) three days into the Second World War on 6 September 1939. She has no war time memories.

During the war Norma and her family were evacuated to Blackpool.

At aged 8 she and her family moved to Manchester, to the suburb of Crumpsall.

Her mother's father was an orthodox Jew who she remembers giving sweets to her on shabbat. She has vivid images of these Mackintosh toffees, with purple and white packaging with crinoline ladies on them. He lived down the road, as did cousins, (essentially in a Jewish ghetto). Because of his influence, while her parents were not orthodox, they joined the orthodox shul..  Her grandpa went to another one He lived with them for a period and Norma remembers him her generally irritating her.

Her grandpa was also a survivor of the Titanic, and went to the US as a young man but returned to the UK as all his family was back there. She also remembers distinctly from childhood an Austrian helper named 'fru-fru' who crocheted things to put on top of the sugar.

Norma's parents were not around much as they worked extremely hard,.. Her father was literally working up until his death, and throughout her life was a very important figure and influence. He was was pretty left-wing and a very bright man. As a boy he won a scholarship to a grammar school in Salford.  Hehad to be bought out of school by his parents as they needed him to work to help feed the retof the the family who were younger than him, when his father’s business crashed. Eventually he became President of the Market Traders Association. He also was a founder of  the Liberal Judaism synagogue in Blackpool.. He taught her how to relate to people of all sorts, and passed on to her a strong Jewish work ethic with no promise of rewards in a future life and indeed no promise of rewards, just making the world a better place in whatever way.

On education and formative professional experiences

Her first degree was in sociology and economics at LSE in the 60s. She then did a MSc back in Manchester in social anthropology with Max Gluckman. Shortly after this she thought she was going to Israel to get married, but she was encouraged to apply tfor a job I a research team focused on children's services and funded by AAACC, an American organization. She was appointed to a research post under the direction of   Professor Jack Tizard.

Jack was an orphan who grew up in New Zealand, and was focused his entire life on the practical application of knowledge. Norma joined a project team led by Jack. It was very exciting and they all worked their socks off on a project examining the quality of life for children with learning difficulties Her focus was on developing measures of quality. Jack died 30 years ago of stomach cancer, and, after he father, was the second key figure in Norma's life.

 After working for him for five year she was inivited to go to thje USA to work .5 years.  by a man named  Dr Hugo Moser to work at an institution in the US, however there turned out to be no money. One project she was put in charge of  was to get prisoners to work there. For a brief time, Norma was in charge of this very difficult programme

She then came back to the UK to do her PGCE at Oxford, and there met some wonderful people who she is still close with.

Looking back, Norma sees her career as the pursuit of particular men. She's not sure she's been great at it, other than her boasses , that is.

On Family

At 32 years old Norma got married to a Hungarian refugee, who turned out to be a violent man, and their marriage soon ended. They had one daughter together, Anna, who never saw her father again from 8 years-old.

When grandchildren come, she'll be very happy, but it's not an objective she has for her daughter or herself. Norma currently lives in East Finchley, in the same block of flats as her daughter and her son in-law. Her daughter lives upstairs, and their doors open on to the street at opposite sides of the building , , so they don’t have to see each other unless they want tor choose to. .

Her daughter is a historian by training, who is now focused on public health, yet whose work remains informed by a keen awareness of her cultural past. She had a state education in Manchester. And later at university in London

On Serendipity

A great believer. Concrete life experiences have provided evidence of its existence and charm.

On Creativity

Norma has written lots of plays and aspires to stage one and to be the director of an Intergenerational  theatre company. A significant experience, which reenergized her and was critical to the development of Intergen, was acting in a play with people across generations directed by Richard Gregory of Quarantine Theatre company. The company works with untrained people and creates theatrical events. The play was a big success, going to Manchester, Glasgow and elsewhere, and gaining rave reviews in the Guardian, The Independent.

On Home

While Norma grew up in and around Manchester, and went back there when she was 40, for her, London is home. She loves the anonymity, the freedom, the richness, the squares. Norma is very much a now person, focused on looking forward and what's going to happen next.

On Intergen

She started Intergen 12 years ago, originally as an initiative working specifically in Trafford. Following the experience with Richard Gregory, and being a part of such an exciting, creative enterprise, she knew that she had to role out Intergen nationally. She studied at the the School for Social Enterprise for just over 1 year, enjoying and learning from that a great deal. She is deeply immersed in her work and like laughing and working with people who are enterprising, creative and fun. Irregardless of their age. She really enjoys being a Rothschild Fellow.

Published on AdR Fellows

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