A STALWART fundraiser for cancer research has died after a short illness.

Norma Robinson was born on 10 June 10, 1936 in Skipton Hospital – her parents Walter and Ada Metcalfe lived in Hawkswick – living with Grandad Metcalfe. After moving to Litton to run Sawsgarth Farm Norma’s sister Pat was born. The sisters went to Arncliffe School to start with and then the family moved to Foxup to farm jointly with Walters brother John Metcalfe, wife Gladys and son ‘Young John’. The three children were brought up together and have remained close throughout their lives. Norma often said Aunty Gladys was her second mother and she loved to spend time with Uncle John, Aunty Gladys and young John over the years spending many happy years visiting their farm. Norma, Pat and John went to school at Holton Gill walking a mile each day, whatever the weather in clogs, this was no easy task especially if it snowed when the snow built up under the clog and made it impossible to walk.

Norma moved again with her parents to Buckden when they decided run a bed and breakfast and café and after leaving school at 14 Norma started working in the village shop for the Falshaws. When Norma’s parents decided to return to farming and leave Buckden, Norma moved into the village shop to live on a permanent basis.

This is where Norma was to meet Stanley – tall and handsome, Stanley was a ‘bit of a lad’ in those days. Norma often laughed when she told Margaret that Stanley was dating the local school teacher Monday to Friday and then when she went home at the weekend to visit her family, Stanley dated Norma at the weekends. Norma and Stanley were often seen whizzing up the dales on Stanley’s pride and joy a brand new motorcycle to go to the pictures in Skipton.

Norma and Stanley married young and were soon proud parents of two girls Valerie and Margaret – living first of all in a cottage in Buckden. Norma often laughed about the day when an argument arose and she threw the joint of pork at Stanley – it sailed out of the door and onto the grass outside – but not to be wasted it was washed down, cooked and eaten for lunch. No room for waste.

Stanley continued working as a farm man in various places with Norma doing cleaning work on the farm, but while living and working in Grindleton (where Margaret was born) tragedy struck. Stanley contracted meningitis.

This resulted in them losing their tied cottage which went with Stanley’s job as farm man; Stanley in one hospital and Margaret in another hospital with pneumonia (not expected to survive) and Norma aged just 19 trying to visit them both, while at the same time looking after a 4 year old, find a new home and a way to earn a living to support the family. With loans from both sets of parents, Norma and Stanley bought a sweet and tobacconist shop in a town called Barnoldswick – far removed from their farming country backgrounds and Norma was then able to be on hand to care for the children, while earning a living. Stanley spent many years in and out of hospital and Norma was always the mainstay of the family, having to deal with Stanley’s poor mental state following the illness.

Coming from the school of hard knocks, Norma rose to the challenge and with her talent for seizing an opportunity and brilliant organisation skills the business flourished. Twice a year the living room was taken over while Norma created her presentation of Christmas gifts or Easter gifts for her customers to view and order from. She started a weekly savings club so customers who didn’t have much money could make sure they had enough to buy gifts for their family. Margaret remembers being banished upstairs to the bedroom while customers were in and out of the living room. But this was business, nothing stood in the way of a good sales idea.

Margaret remembers the sweet shop with fondness; going to school through the shop the penny tray proved rich pickings for mid morning snacks! That is until Norma found out and said she thought there were mice in the shop so she had put secret mousetraps around the shop – that stopped it!

Once supermarkets arrived, the small shop became unprofitable and Norma moved on to work as an insurance agent with Wesleyan & General – once again the dining room table was taken over for business, becoming the office. A new challenge and a new success – Norma loved this job – meeting new people she was in her element as Norma loved nothing more than socialising. With new business growing Norma received many awards. However, in those days premiums were collected in cash – no direct debits in those days – and walking the streets late at night with a bag full of cash became a real worry for Norma.

During these years there were so many lovely holidays trekking round Wales and Scotland in a tent or bed and breakfast. The first camping holiday was a bit of a disaster as the tent was set up next to a Loch in Scotland – right next to an Ant hill. Margaret’s only memory of this holiday was sleeping with a wet towel over her face and the end of the tent black with ants. It provided many a laugh over the years remembering that one.

The family then progressed to caravan holidays in Tenby along with Pat, Geoff, Beverley and Ian and these holidays were such fun as the two families enjoyed time together. The families again came together to follow ‘Young John’ round the country when he was Lancashire Sidecar champion – the races were great fun and everyone enjoyed the days out together.

The whole Metcalfe family kept in regular contact with big family ‘carding parties’ and meat pie and peas on the menu getting together with the extended family was always great fun. Margaret remembers these with great fondness as it was her first introduction to the joys of friendly ‘gambling’ playing for pennies or matchsticks it didn’t matter which. However, Norma and Stanley were both competitive and liked to win. In later years Margaret and Alastair used to take Norma to the Casino in Sheffield where she would happily spend two or three hours playing Black Jack – always within her £40 budget, sitting there being waited on with free cups of tea.

Norma was always the proud parent and none more so than in 1974 when Margaret and Eddy married – with a big white wedding to organise Norma was in her element. The whole day went like clockwork and the whole family loved the celebration. The four of them also enjoyed lovely holidays together before and after Emma and Lee were born.

Not long after, Norma and Stan moved to West Marton Village Shop – Norma would often say these were their happiest years as Stanley worked for the dairy in the village and Norma developed the business. They were back in the country with a large garden just what they loved after town living. Once again increasing turnover and then introducing bed and breakfast as well – Norma and Stanley furnished the store room and let out the two bedrooms. Both of them loved this time meeting people from all over the world, many coming back year after year – the most memorable were the ‘London Lads’ a group of young men who visiting Norma and Stanley year after year. Norma would take them off up the Dales and Colin, only last week during a telephone conversation, recounted to Margaret how Norma would speed along the small country roads at top speed scaring the life out of them. A London trip was organised by Margaret a few years ago for Norma to visit her favourite London Lads – they greeted her with a bouquet of flowers, gifts, meals and treated her like royalty -she was so happy. Only last month Margaret and Norma had talked of visiting them again as soon as restrictions lifted.

It was during these years that Norma was diagnosed with breast cancer; once again a new challenge for Norma and the whole family – but again once Norma rose to the challenge. Once she had recovered, Norma then spent the next 12 years organising fund raising events – from raffles, quizzes, flights on Concorde, Dancing shows in Skipton Town Hall – she was prolific in raising funds for Cancer Research and Airedale Cancer support. Trekking up and down Skipton, Barnoldswick and other villages Norma would round up prizes from individuals to large companies like Silentnight and Rolls Royce. Norma had a large team of volunteers who helped her year after year and they raised many thousands of pounds for the cause.

The West Marton estate is owned by the Nelson family, who nominated Norma for an invitation to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace – when the invitation arrived Norma was completely overwhelmed. This was such a special time for Norma – she had never been to London, so to dress up in her best outfit and hat, book into a big hotel and travel to London was a first. Seeing Princess Diana, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh was a just reward for all her hard work.

During these years Emma and Lee were regular visitors during school holidays – enjoying time with Nana and Grandad – walking, playing dominoes and cards and having special time alone with them. There were also family holidays with Nana and Grandad and many funny times ensued. Of course Norma and Stanley also enjoyed their monthly stay at Margaret’s pub in Hoyland spending quality time with the children. Every Christmas since 1974 when Margaret and Eddy married, Norma and Stanley would spend with them and the grandchildren.

Christmas became a tradition to have a games night with friends Kath, Derek, Carol and Ian and Norma would love to join in – although often the game would go right over her head much to the amusement of everyone else. Ian tormented Norma one Christmas about her favourite game of Whist which Norma defended to the hilt – eventually she went off to bed, but clearly it played on her mind when an hour later the door opened and in came Norma: “And another thing about Whist....” she said. It was hysterical.

In Ibiza – a day trip to ride donkeys and swim turned into free drinks at lunch time for mum and dad and nana and grandad – needless to say on return to the hotel the adults were worse for wear and the children were left to entertain themselves – Emma took the opportunity to bring a string of friends to look at Nana and Grandad, mum and dad worse the wear for a drink or two!!

During our holiday in Majorca with Pat and family a rainy afternoon turned into a drinking marathon in the bar – with Norma being chased round the place by Stanley all hysterical with laughter. The day was finished off by Norma setting the bath off running then falling asleep on the bed and flooding the room.

Norma was always first in line to help – whether it was gardening, decorating, organising – she helped Margaret, Emma and Lee with their houses, also Beverley and Andrew with their rental properties – always willing to give time to help where she could and loving being involved.

Parties for every occasion were a favourite for Norma - with family and many many friends these were never to be missed and at Margaret and Alastair’s joint 90th – Norma and Pat having had a few drinks took to the dancefloor with a vengeance – their nicknames became Hinge & Bracket but what a night they had – Pat hasn’t had a drink since.

Norma’s last job was at Morrisons Supermarket in Skipton where she worked for many years on checkout.  What a great opportunity to chat and socialise with the customers – the only trouble was Norma was hauled into the office for not meeting her target of so many items a minute through the till!!  At the age of 81 Norma finally retired and moved to Sheffield to be closer to Margaret and family so she was on hand to help in her later years.

Daughter, Margaret Abrahams, said: “What a woman my mother was; she made me so proud - adversity knocks and she climbs over it. Such strength, such determination and in among it all such caring for everyone else. No one is perfect and mum definitely wasn’t. We had our moments as everyone does, but do you know what - you have just got to admire everything she did, the way she always found a way to support her family, to be successful in every business and job she ever had, while at the same time having fun, making money for cancer and caring for every member of her close and extended family.

“The last two years have been so difficult for mum having to deal with dementia and then Covid and lockdown but even though she was reduced to be locked into a one bed apartment, she still remained cheerful and positive when we spoke or I visited – and she still loved to trip out for lunch (restrictions permitting). We talked so much of what we would do after lockdown but sadly it wasn’t to be – but she has had such a rich and full life with so so many enjoyable trips to Wimbledon, spa weekends, Edinburgh Tattoo, London, theatre trips we shared. Her city breaks and holidays in Cyprus with Pat and many of her friends were also a joy for her.

I miss her so much already and I know how proud she was of me and Emma, Lee and her love for Liddy - may you be in a better place mum because Alzheimers is a cruel disease and you were so frustrated in the end with how this was affecting you. I am so sad that I won’t speak to you or see you again but we had so many happy times and so many fabulous memories. I love you, mum.”