Farewell and thanks to John

There was a large gathering at the Antelope in Surbiton on 15 November to celebrate John Norman’s 43 years of continuous campaigning activity for CAMRA at branch, regional and national level. Both CAMRA’s Greater London and Surrey/Sussex regional directors, Ellie Eames and Paul Sanders, were in attendance and presented John with a certificate commemorating the event.

John (centre) receives his certificate from Paul

John joined CAMRA in 1976 and first attended Nottingham Branch meetings while at University. He returned home to the Kingston area in summer 1978 and has been a driving force for the Kingston & Leatherhead branch almost ever since. He attended his first meeting in January 1979 and was elected to the committee the following year. Since then he has held almost every committee position, including eight years as chair and eleven as secretary. More recently he has been pub records officer, looking after the production of several printed local guides along with the digitisation and subsequent maintenance of pub records.

John has played a key role in organising many local CAMRA beer festivals over the years, including Sandown Park and the Surrey Beer Festivals held at Dorking Halls and Leatherhead Leisure Centre. He helped organise almost all the Kingston Beer Festivals in one capacity or another, most recently editing the programme and producing the poster design. He was also head bar manager at Farnham Beerex for several years.

In 1983 he became CAMRA’s south east regional organiser (later regional director) and was elected to the CAMRA National Executive in 1988. He sat on various committees and in particular championed the promotion of mild by chairing various incarnations of the Mild Marketing Board.

In 1989 John worked jointly with Ted Eller to organise the Great British Beer Festival in Leeds and went on to lead the organisation of the subsequent Brighton and Docklands Festivals. He continued to be responsible for GBBF wet stock control until the late nineties.

From 1995 to 2011 he served as minutes secretary for various high level CAMRA committees, including the National Executive, Branches Committee and the Promotions & Marketing Committee. He also sat on the What’s Brewing Editorial Board for several years.

None of this stopped John volunteering at countless CAMRA and other beer festivals across the country, starting with Nottingham in 1977 (where he skipped a week’s worth of lectures to help with the set up!). Buses being another of John’s passions, he was one of the bus conductors on the Kent Beer Festival shuttle service for over 20 years, with responsibility for the overall running of the bus service for 19 of those years.

John is taking a well earned break from his campaigning activities but he will no doubt continue to be a familiar face at CAMRA events for many years to come.
John Burns