Monday, 21 October 2019

Residents pay tribute to man who was ‘Mr Goring’

Residents pay tribute to man who was ‘Mr Goring’

TRIBUTES have been paid to a community campaigner and former chairman of Goring Parish Council.

Norman Radley, who died on September 13, aged 99, co-founded the Goring Gap Players drama group, the Goring Gap News magazine and the village’s twinning association with Bellême in France.

More recently, he successfully campaigned to have passenger lifts installed at the village station as a member of the Goring mobility issues group’s committee.

The lifts weren’t originally included in Network Rail’s station refurbishment plans but Mr Radley launched a petition which was signed by more than 1,000 people and presented to Parliament by Henley MP John Howell.

The company relented and the lifts were opened in 2016.

Last month a plaque in Mr Radley’s honour was unveiled at the station but he was not well enough to attend the ceremony.

John Boler, the mobility group’s chairman, said he had just been appointed in 2010 when Mr Radley rang him to ask about the lifts.

He said: “Without that initial call I doubt I would have kicked off the process which, with a good deal of collective effort, resulted in the decision to put them in. That project will always resound with his name.

“He played an active role in our group until about 2016, when he became quite frail, but his frailty informed his attitudes and determination in his work. He began to use a mobility scooter and became more aware of the obstacles that present themselves.”

Mr Boler served as parish clerk between 2007 and 2009, when Mr Radley was still a councillor.

He said: “I remember him being a firm stickler for detail, particularly when it came to enforcing planning rules as the process was generally more stringent than it is these days.

“He was always looking for ways to improve things — that was how he went about life. He wanted to deal with threats and make the very best of opportunities.

“He could be grumpy at times but that aspect of his character drove him to identify problems and look for solutions.

“He never kept his dissatisfaction to himself if he felt he could make a useful difference by speaking up.

“Norman played a huge part in shaping Goring as it is today. Over the past 50 or more years, he’s probably the single most influential person in terms of setting up the clubs and amenities which residents still enjoy. I cannot think of anyone else who has had such a prominent improving effect.

“When I was researching his life for the leaflet we handed out at the plaque unveiling, I couldn’t believe how much he had accomplished.”

Mr Radley served on the council from 1976 to 2007 and was chairman frm 1984 to 1988. He then chaired its planning committee until he stood down. Stephanie Bridle, of Cleeve Road, who served alongside him in the Eighties and early Nineties, said he encouraged her to stand for election as she would often contribute as a member of the public at council meetings.

Mrs Bridle, who now chairs Goring Gap in Bloom, said: “This was in the days when we had big elections and you’d have more than 20 candidates, so it was quite a commitment to put yourself forward.

“Planning seemed to be his main interest as well — he was very diligent in ensuring everything was done correctly. He always arranged comprehensive site visits and went out of his way to get neighbours’ views.

“He showed me all the ropes and was an exceptional chairman who made sure everyone had their chance to speak. He was also very fair-minded and took the trouble to see both sides rather than rushing to a quick view on anything.

“On a personal level, I found Norman to be lovely — very even-tempered, thoughtful and diplomatic. He was extremely highly regarded within the community.

“We were very different personalities but complemented each other and I enjoyed working alongside him.”

Mr Radley co-founded the Players in 1962.

He helped launch Goring Gap News in 1988 and served as editor for a period.

In 2004 the not-for-profit magazine, which is produced and distributed entirely by volunteers, became the first community publication to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Paul Bradstock, chairman of the Goring Gap News Association, said: “Norman was a magnificent person to work with — a real gentleman who was very friendly, capable and a joy to be around.

“He was very dedicated to our aims and gave strong leadership for several decades so he contributed enormously to our ethos and the general way in which we’ve developed.”

Mr Radley was a member of the amenity association from 1965 to 1999, serving as chairman from 1982 to 1984. He successfully opposed plans for high-voltage power lines across Streatley Hill and for an underpass on the nearby A329.

He also persuaded the National Trust to buy The Holies, a private green space which was the subject of noise complaints due to its frequent use for motorcross rallies.

He was also commodore of Goring Thames Sailing Club in the Seventies, a regular winder of the village clock in the Nineties and chairman of the Goring and Streatley Probus Club in 2000.

Mr Radley oversaw the transfer of the village hall to a board of independent trustees in 1983 and helped prevent a planned closure of Goring library in 1999.

He was awarded the freedom of Goring in 2001.

In 2010, after years of lobbying for a bandstand on Rectory Garden, he led a successful drive for a new village sign instead.

In 2012, he sat on the committee which organised Goring and Streatley’s joint celebration of the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

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