Who We Are – Norman Perrin

Norman Perrin is co-founder of Paces Campus, the community centre at High Green. Granted a 40-year lease by Sheffield Council last year, plans are in hand for developing the site. He’s also Chief Executive of Paces, the charity pioneering conductive education for children and adults with cerebral palsy.

Norman’s 64, married, with 3 grown-up children and four grandchildren. He’s passionate about ordinary people having choice and control in their own lives.

What do you like most about your job?
Partnership has been really important to the success of the Paces Project. So when people all come together to get things done, that gives me a real sense of being part of something worthwhile.

Best/Worst day?
Honestly, I enjoy most days. Every day is different; I’m lucky to work with some great people. I’ve been about long enough not to let the bad days get to me for too long. The worst days are when I struggle to manage the demands of family and work.

Who is or was the most important influence in your life?
Maybe the African Head Teacher I first worked for in Kenya – a real pioneer of community education. Or perhaps my wife Dru. Or four grandchildren, who’ve shown me how to see the world through fresh eyes. But the person who completely changed my life, who has brought me great joy and taught me how to cope with the hard times, is my daughter Sarah, born with cerebral palsy and now 27 years old. She has a terrific smile.

Favourite gadget?
I bought my wife Dru an iPhone for her 60th birthday. I want one! I want one! Is my MacBook Pro a “gadget”? I couldn’t live without it. I’m an Apple fan – never used a PC.

Favourite media?
The internet: I’ve had a blog for several years (http://paces.typepad.com/paces/); I can be found on twitter and Facebook; I use Skype. The internet’s just a great source of breaking news and for keeping up with family and friends. I’m having fun just now volunteering as a tutor with CoSY Computers every Thursday, helping get beginners online.

Current or recent film you’d most like to see?
With Sarah to care for, Dru and I don’t get out much together. This weekend as I write this, Sarah has a short beak (“respite”). We thought we’d see a film for a treat – but didn’t fancy anything! Got a DVD instead: “The Time Traveller’s Wife”.

What music are you listening to right now?
I listen to Spotify a lot and download tracks from iTunes. The past few days I’ve been re-living the music of the American Folk-Blues Caravans from the 1960s on Spotify and YouTube. I saw the 1963 tour at Croydon’s Fairfiled Hall. On my birthday. Cool!

What makes you smile?
On TV? Armstrong & Miller. QI. Have I Got News For You. Jeremy Clarkson’s newspaper column on Sundays is good for a giggle. I hope I can laugh at myself often enough to keep my feet on the ground. My wife Dru can be very funny – which stops me taking things too seriously.

What would you most like to put right in this world?
I’d like those in the educational mainstream to show some sign that they think the education of children with cerebral palsy was worth talking about.

On a different level, there used to be a feminist slogan “Take the toys from the boys”. I’d like the men of violence (and it’s almost always men, young men) to put down their weapons and ‘give peace a chance’.

How do you see yourself in 10 years?
Breathing would be good! I’m 65 in October this year and hope to continue with Paces for maybe 3 more years or so. After that, there’ll be places to go, people to see. Travelling light. Just so long as I’m fit.

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