Norman had a memorable voice

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One of the most recognisable voices on radio in the 20th century was born in Leamington and after his death his ashes were scattered in the grounds of Campion School.

Norman Painting played the part of Phil Archer in the BBC series “The Archers” for over 50 years.

He is one of the subjects in a book “Leamington Lives Remembered” by Alan Griffin of Leamington History group.

Norman George Painting was born on St George’s Day 1924 at 28 Grove Street, Leamington. He came from a modest background. His father was a railway signalman and an unpaid Labour Party agent and trade unionist.

Norman was awarded a place at Leamington College but it was not a free place and the payment of even very modest fees placed a strain on the family’s finances. His family moved to Nuneaton and he left school at 15.

Paying his own college fees, he graduated from Birmingham University with a first in English.

Later he studied Anglo Saxon poetry at Oxford. There he became immersed in drama and was headhunted by Dennis Morris, controller of the BBC Light Programme.

He started as a writer and was asked to collate agricultural facts for a new programme to be called “The Archers of Wimberton Farm. Norman became a central figure in the programme until his death in 2009.

In the latter part of his life he lived in Warmington, south Warwickshire.

For 20 years he was patron of Age Concern Warwickshire, and was chairman of Warwickshire and Coventry Historic Churches Trust. He was presented with the OBE in 1976.

He always wanted to write an account of his childhood days in Leamington but his idea never came to fruition.

He died at Warmington Grange, aged 85.

At his request, his ashes were scattered in the small plantation he had helped to establish in the grounds of Campion School in Leamington.

Leamington Lives Remembered by Alan Griffin, published by Feldon Books, £6.95.