Sir Norman Adsetts OBE. R.I.P
Life President of Autism Plus
Former Chairman of Autism Plus
Former Chairman of The Adsetts Partnership
It is with great sadness we announce the death of Sir Norman Adsetts OBE. He will be missed by all of us at Autism Plus and more widely across the region and nationally given his amazing contribution to business and charities, especially those working in the field of Autism. I approached Sir Norman in 2007 to try and persuade him to join the board of Autism Plus. He turned me down because he was involved in too many things at the time including chairmanship of Mount St Marys College. I approached him again one month later and he informed me my timing was extraordinary as he had just decided to step down from Mount St Marys. My invitation to join our board was accepted and the board unanimously agreed to appoint him chairman of Autism Plus.
Fond Memories of our Relationship
Having told me initially that he could not commit too much time to the role, in fact he did the opposite and he worked tirelessly in promoting change and supporting me to engage with Ministers, Bishops and business leaders. He encouraged me to join the board of the newly formed Sheffield City Region LEP to ensure Autism Plus and the third sector had a voice on the board. He arranged for the two of us to meet with Ministers across Whitehall and he sent a car and his driver to collect me from home and drive us both to London. Our discussion in the car was enlightening as he passionately disclosed his plans for Autism Plus emphasising the need for growth and diversification.
Following our trip to London we chatted more in the car on the way home. I was astonished by his energy and enthusiasm for a man of his age. However, with all the excitement of the day, coupled with the long journey (and the comfortable car) I fell asleep whilst he was still talking. I later awoke feeling embarrassed, but he was smiling most graciously. I had regular meetings with him both at his home and at the office and our friendship grew over the years and I will never forget what a wonderful and generous man he was.
In 2010 we jointly formed the Adsetts Partnership fostering good partnership work with other charities across the region predominantly with employment programmes under the former governments New Deal programme. In the same year we organised the Northern Business Dinner at the Cutlers Hall in Sheffield. The audience consisted of 350 business leaders and the guests of honour included Sir Norman and Lady Eve, Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP and Deputy PM, Monty Don, James Newman (LEP Chair) and Barrie Cottingham MBE. Sir Norman took me to one side before the event and told me he once dressed as a clown at a previous dinner as he sensed people were generally bored with speeches. He suggested I should sing a song and play my guitar for the audience and so I was very pleased to do so. The Hall was filled with business leaders from across the region clearly demonstrating the love, affection and deep respect everyone had for Sir Norman. On the night of the business dinner alone we received over £35000 in donations.
The SnowmanSir Norman called me at home one evening in December when my children were little. I cannot recall the conversation, but my children gathered around as I frequently mentioned his name, ‘yes Sir Norman and no Sir Norman and indeed Sir Norman’. When the call ended my daughter Anna said ‘Oh dad, why didn’t you let me talk to the snowman?’. I said I haven’t been speaking to a snowman. She said ‘Yes you have because I heard you calling him snowman lots of times’.
The GiantSir Norman once told me he joined the RAF after university, and he was an officer responsible for equipment including the storage and placement of aircraft. He told me his greatest achievement came about when he actually lost an aircraft from his inventory. This drew great amusement from him and his colleagues. He later achieved tremendous success as a leading industrialist forming SIG PLC. He did so much for his adopted City of Sheffield and so much more in supporting many charities especially those involved in the field of Autism. Knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 and much loved by all those who knew him. He once told me the one lesson he learned many years ago as Chairman was to never get in the way of the Chief Executive. He never did get in the way of me but he did offer me great support and advice that stand the test of time. One memorable piece of advice was ‘think of yourself as a racing driver, the one who wins the race is the one putting his foot on the accelerator when everyone else is taking theirs off’. In other words, the time for growth and diversification in a recession, he said, is precisely when everyone else is cutting back!
In our sad and final farewell from all of us at Autism Plus we give thanks for his life and pay tribute to this great Giant of a man who contributed so much to our work at Autism Plus, the Region and beyond. We have lost a great friend, and we remember him in our thoughts and prayers and with sincere condolences to his family for their sad loss.
May he Rest in Peace.
Group Chief Executive
Autism Plus and The Adsetts Partnership.
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