Norma's Profile

I was born  in Sussex, England, in 1939, just as WW2 was about to start. During the war I lived in the fishing village of Selsey with my parents, grandparents and great grandfather – four generations in a three-bedroomed house.

My father spent the wartime in the British army, monitoring radio activities in the Atlantic and from inside the rock of Gibraltar. His monitoring continued after the war ceased and in the civilian foreign service he was posted to Singapore. My first ocean cruise followed a few months later as my mother and I sailed on a troop carrier through Suez and on to Singapore. While in Singapore I attended a convent school where English and Malay were the main languages. Two very happy years were spent there before we were off once more. This time Spain was to be our home for the following three years. There I attended a French Lycee in Madrid, where the only languages spoken were French and Spanish! I survived somehow and ended up speaking those languages and with an understanding of geography, but unfortunately nothing much more!

My father was then posted to Moscow, where he was accompanied by my mother. However, there was no suitable schooling available in Moscow so off I went to Tortington Park boarding school in Arundel. My education was improved upon and I got to visit my parents in Moscow during the depths of the Cold War. I saw the sights, which even included the newly dead body of Stalin.

At this time I met Michael. We started corresponding and visiting each other from time to time. My parents and I moved to Bletchley, as my father went to work at the famous Bletchley Park. My father was then posted by the Foreign Office to the British Embassy in New Delhi where, having done a secretarial course in England, I was suitably qualified to take on my first job. At the end of two years I returned to England and immediately visited Cambridge where Michael was studying. He invited me to a May Ball where our relationship was cemented and has lasted happily for more than 60 years.

I left the countryside to make my way in London. For a while I had a dream job organising travel arrangements for Formula One racing drivers and attending some of the Grand Prix in the 1961 season. Michael qualified as a doctor and we were married soon after. Michael joined the Royal Air Force medical service. We were yearning for sunshine, and at the start of his service we were delighted to be able to choose a posting to Cyprus for three years. Sunshine became an essential element of our lives and on leaving the air force we emigrated to Australia as ten-pound Poms - although Michael was already an Australian citizen, as the son of his father. With young daughter Anita we once again had a house full of animals, from "Flossy" the guinea pig, “Honey” the border collie, and Sundance" the (stabled) palomino horse.

This was a fantastic move and we have enjoyed a very full and satisfying life here, interrupted by eight years sailing around the world in a beautiful yacht that we mostly built ourselves - see the Yachting pages here. At that time I was working as a fully qualified sailmaker.

I started caring for wildlife in 1991 when I joined WIRES, working initially in the office alongside Mikla Lewis, the founder of WIRES. Wildlife caring was still in its infancy and we were pretty naive, calling back and forth to each other for answers to the unusual enquiries from the public. My first rescue was a bird, a Tawny Frogmouth that screamed and screamed from what we now know was pesticide poisoning. It died a few hours later – a traumatic baptism of fire, but which I soon found to be a familiar experience for wildlife rehabilitators.

I also enjoy writing and the necessary learning as a consequence, and have written and self-published several manuals for wildlife carers: the Australian Bird Rehabilitation Manual, Identification of Chicks Nestlings and Fledglings of Australian Birds, and Small Mammals Identification and Care. These books sell to wildlife carers throughout every state in Australia, and even a few overseas. There is more information on them and on wildlife rehabilitation generally in the “Animals” pages of this web site.

We continued to sail locally and in the south-west Pacific islands until 2015, when age caught up with us and we moved to a comfortable motor cruiser. From 2007 to 2018 we also kept a compact motorhome in Europe, where we spent four months during each European summer - our winter. During that 11 years we covered nearly every country in Europe, making friends and enjoying an amazing lifestyle wherever we travelled. We now have a caravan in which we have explored much of the “Top End” of Australia. All these trips are documented in the “Travels” pages here.

We live in a home overlooking Pittwater with a lot of bushland around. I enjoy the garden and have more visiting wildlife than most wildlife refuges; in fact, my garden was featured on a Better Homes and Gardens segment on TV on how to create a wildlife-friendly garden. We hope you enjoy some of the stories in this web site.