Touching tributes to Dunorlan Park boatman who has died aged 98

Touching tributes to Dunorlan Park  boatman who has died aged 98
Norman Matchett

Along with his brother Ron, Norman began working in Dunorlan Park in the 1950s, selling ice creams and teas from a trailer.


But the pair were most well-known for running the boat hire on Dunorlan Lake, which Norman continued to do after his brother’s death in 2006 – right up until last year when he finally retired.

Simon Bryant, grandson to Norman told the Times: “He had seen it all during the war so was such an easy going man, nothing phased him.

“He was such a soft touch too, if people had no money he would still let them take a boat out as he would argue they were better on the water than bobbing up and down on the jetty.

“He will be missed by so many people.”

Dunorlan Park announced Norman’s death at the age of 98 on their Facebook page, saying: “It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Norman Matchett at the age of 98.

“He ran the boats in Dunorlan Park for over 60 years and even worked the whole of the 2019 season serving tickets in the kiosk.”

They added: “The boats will continue to be run by Norman’s son, Peter.”

The post received dozens of comments from well-wishers, many of which had fond memories of boating in the park and of Norman.

Joan Hamilton-Smith, said: “A lovely man who will be missed very much. Love to all his family xx.”

Lynne Peckham added: “I was very luckily to have got to know Norman at work.

“He was a lovely gentleman with great stories to tell. He could also be very cheeky and always wanted a cup of coffee. Will miss him at work. Sending my condolences to all the family.”

While Nikki Conway said: “Norman, so many fond memories of this lovely man. It was such an honour and pleasure to get to know some of Norman’s family. Sending love to all the family.”

Norman, who died last week, leaves three children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. His wife Margaret passed away last year.

His funeral takes place at Tunbridge Wells Crematorium next Wednesday [July 29] at 12.15pm but due to Covid restrictions, only 22 mourners can attend.

However, the family say they hope to live stream the proceedings via the internet for those that cannot attend but wish to pay their respects.

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