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Rushden Echo & Argus, 17th August 1934, transcribed by Kay Collins
Alfred G A Norman
Rushden Printer Now Writes and Broadcasts in Bombay
A Podington Boy
Printer’s "devil," sailor, globetrotter, sports reporter, assistant editor, special correspondent and broadcaster on Indian affairs.

That is the adventurous path travelled by Mr A G A Norman, formerly of the "Rushden Echo" staff and now assistant editor of "The Illustrated Weekly of India."

Nineteen years ago the boy who had come from Podington to learn the printing trade at Rushden decided to join the Navy. From that time the world has offered him a wealth of experience, adventure and success, and his response to opportunity shows him to be a man of unusual spirit and courage.

Mr Norman’s life-story reached us this week in the form of an article from an Indian journal......

The full significance of the colourful life of the East is often lost on the thousands of young Englishmen who visit India, but this, it can confidently be asserted, has not been the case with Mr Alfred G A Norman, the eldest son of the late Mr and Mrs G L Norman, of Podington, Bedfordshire, England, and the grandson of that well-known Wesleyan stalwart, the late Mr John Norman.

In his professional duties on the editorial staff of Asia’s leading illustrated journal, "The Illustrated Weekly of India," Mr Norman has had not only the opportunity to appreciate India’s various subtle hues, but also to bring them very forcibly before Indians and Europeans alike, through the medium of his profession.

Apart from this, he has not merely been a silent spectator and worker, but has also joined actively in the life and play of the Indian. As a journalist, he has, by his ability and unfailing bonhomie, won the esteem and regard of his colleagues and a large circle of friends, among whom he is popularly known as "A.G.A.N."

In The Navy

Having introduced Mr. Norman to you, we can proceed to outline his career and his humble but spontaneous contributions to the betterment of the conditions of existence of his fellow men.

After a fairly uneventful childhood, he joined the "Rushden Echo" and, on the outbreak of the Great War, enlisted, while still a boy, in the Navy, and served in the North Sea, the Dardanelles and the troublous waters off the coast of Turkey and South Russia. When the war ended, he was "demobilised," but neither shot, nor shell, nor the privations of war quenched his spirit of adventure. With a small store of money, but immense confidence in his own abilities, he then started on a globe-trotting expedition. He visited America, Australia, Canada and other countries, and finally struck India, his present home, early in 1930. He joined "The Times of India" that year as a sports reporter, and shortly after acted as Sports Editor for six months. He transferred his services to the news side of the paper, as a sub-editor, and in 1932 was appointed Assistant Editor of "The Illustrated Weekly," the only journal of its kind in the world.

News of Riots

India broke into the front pages of the world's dailies in 1930. Bombay was the nerve and news centre of Congress activities, and Mr. Norman was authorised by the "Daily Express" (London) to "cover" the situation for British readers. He was the first newspaperman on the scene in 1932 the outbreak of the bloody communal riots in Bombay—in which more than 300 people were killed—and was responsible for the graphic descriptions of the mass murders published in the "Daily Express." Another "scoop" to be credited to him was an exclusive interview with Mr Ganghi, the Hindu leader, while he was undergoing "a fast to death" in Poona jail, two years ago. Mr Norman is still the Bombay correspondent of the "Daily Express."

Turning to other matters, Mr. Norman has made a name for himself in social and Masonic matters in Bombay. A member of the Lodge Research, English Constitution, he was elected Worshipful Master in 1930, thereby earning the distinction of being one of the youngest Freemasons to hold such a high office in Western India. He is also a Past Z of the Chapter affiliated to Lodge Research. Two years ago he was given the Grand Lodge rank of Past District Grand Assistant Director of Ceremonies, the honour being conferred on him by Sir Reginald Spence, the then District Grand Master. Mr. Norman is now the organist of his Lodge.

Wireless Commentator

Mr. Norman is also one of the featured speakers of the Bombay broadcasting station, which caters for India, Burma and Ceylon, and he is on the air twice weekly, besides being a member of the announcing staff. He gave a vivid description of a Bombay street scene last December—which our readers will probably remember—when the Bombay station was broadcast to the world. Mr Norman also gave a ball-by-ball commentary on the M.C.C. cricket matches played in Bombay. He also gives running commentaries on football, boxing, and hockey matches.

This versatile young man has also achieved a certain amount of fame in the dancing world, In the All-India Amateur Ballroom Dancing Championship in 1932, held at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Bombay, Mr Norman was awarded a beautiful silver cup for winning the all-round championship.

Helping the Films

Mr Norman has also lent his keen insight and knowledge of the conditions of the film industry overseas, and his perfectly modulated voice towards the improvement and popularisation of the indigenous film in India. He has done many commentaries on Indian news reels, and was selected to do the commentary for the talkie produced of the Indian earthquake, which was sponsored by His Excellency the Viceroy, Lord Willingdon, and shown throughout the country to help in the collection of funds for the relief of the distressed.

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