Rossendale Free Press
Tributes paid to top town ‘twin’
TRIBUTES have been paid to a founding member of a twin town social group, following his death, aged 78.
Norman Driver, of Hoghton Avenue, Bacup, was the second chairman of the Friends of Bocholt, a friendship group formed in Rossendale, Lancashire in 1983 to establish regular visits and foster links with the German city.
His friend and fellow Friends of Bocholt veteran John Davey said Norman, who had underlying health conditions, sadly passed away on December 30, after testing positive for Covid19. He leaves a wife Rosalie, and sons Chris and Mark.
John was the first chairman of the group, which arose out of a Scouts exchange visit in 1982 marking the 30th anniversary of the twinning arrangement.
John, from Haslingden, said: “Norman and his wife Rosalie were both members of the founding committee and were both loyal and very hard working committee members of our organisation for over 25 years. They remained members up to the present day.
“They have many friends over in Bocholt having made over 50 visits there. I have very happy memories of the many visits we both made with our wives to Karneval - one in particular when Norman and I dressed in the famous bear costumes Ross and Dale belonging to Winfields. Very useful as the Karneval is in February and very cold!” Rosalie’s parents ran the old White Horse pub in Edgeside, and it was the football club from the pub that began exchanges with a club in Bocholt which shaped Norman’s links before the Friends of Bocholt was even formed.
John said: “We went over in the September to the [anniversary] celebrations and on the way back we came up with the idea that we should start an organisation in Rossendale that’s involved in the twinning - not just the formal council twinning, but people to people.” The group still has around 50 people involved from the Valley, with even more members in Bocholt, as part of their German British Society.
So fondly is Norman and the friendship group remembered that an obituary has also appeared in the local German press.
John, who described Norman as “a wit”, added: “There are a lot of people that still think very highly of Norman. He will be sadly missed by all in our organisation, but remembered for all the support that he gave us over so many years.
“I am certain also that he will be missed by the many friends that he made in Bocholt.
“Our very sincere condolences go out to Rosalie and all his family on their sad loss.”