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Norman Surplus

28th April 2022
The late Norman Surplus gyrocopter aboard his gyrocopter
The late Norman Surplus gyrocopter aboard his gyrocopter

Larne based East Antrim Boat Club members learned recently of the sudden passing of their friend Norman Surplus who was associated with the club for many years.

Norman’s love of outdoor pursuits began at college where he discovered windsurfing and orienteering, activities that suited his adventurous outlook on life. After graduating he worked in the outdoor pursuits industry and in his spare time created 'Surplus Art', a venture which mixed the artistic with his active side. His figures of windsurfers, made from pipe cleaners were particularly successful.

Norman's adventurous side lead him across the world in various and diverse activities; photographing Formula One venues for the hugely successful series of Grand Prix computer games, manhandling heavy Met Masts up boggy Irish mountains and torquing blade bolts standing on the outside of a wind turbine nose cone, a task most refused but one that Norman attacked with relish.

He formed with his brother David the B9 group of companies with the aim of promoting renewables as a necessary tool in the fight to save our environment from climate change.

Norman was one of the first to volunteer when the RNLI opened its Larne station, and he was appointed 2nd coxswain for the arrival of the all-weather lifeboat. He fundraised with enthusiasm for the charity. RNLI Larne posted on Facebook, “Norman’s smiling face and infectious personality will certainly be missed by anyone who has ever walked through our station doors. All of the station management and volunteer crew send their deepest condolences and prayers to Celia, Felix, Petra and the wider Surplus family circle at this sad time”.

Norman Surplus Photo: RNLI LarneNorman Surplus Photo: RNLI Larne

In his forties Norman was diagnosed with cancer, which he approached with his typical vigour, stoically enduring the chemotherapy, and determinedly winning the battle. After getting the all-clear he felt the need to help in the war on cancer and set about a new adventure aimed at raising awareness and funds for the cause. He had always been keen to learn to fly and noted that no one had ever managed to successfully fly a Gyrocopter around the world. This sense of purpose led him to gaining quickly his pilot's license and becoming the proud owner of G-YROX, the very yellow gyrocopter often seen in the skies above Larne.

After two years of practice flying and many hours of planning, he flew out of Sandy Bay playing fields in Larne to begin his long world conquering trip, a trip that faced many challenges and tribulations before landing back into Larne and the glare and accolades of the public spotlight. His trip began in 2010 and ended in 2019.

Richard Ford-Hutchinson, long time and former EABC General Committee member commented : “I consider myself very fortunate to have called Norman colleague, business partner and above all friend, someone more interested in helping than finding fault, his audacious humour and humility an educating inspiration. He will be sadly missed by those privileged to know him and our heartfelt condolences go to Celia, Felix, Petra, and the extended Surplus family”.

A fitting tribute to Norman will be the publication of his book about his 32 country, 27,000 mile and nine-year pioneering gyro adventure around the globe.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

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