Four Venner brothers were at Shebbear from 1944 to 1963. Two of their sons were to follow. At the same time two sisters were educated at Edgehill.
Meanwhile, their father Thomas, farmer and agricultural merchant and a true believer in all things Shebbearian, found time to chair the appeals committee which raised money to build Pyke House in 1965.
A dormitory in the new house was named “Venner” in recognition of his work and the family’s contribution to the school. Now, the name will appear again on the panel which records all the Presidents of the Old Shebbearians’ Association.
Norman Venner, second of the brothers, was elected President at the Centenary Reunion in January.
Born in the Parish of Bampton in 1939, he was a boarder from 1950-56. After Shebbear, he qualified as a Public Health Inspector and worked for local authorities in Barnstaple, Northam and Bideford.
He left local government in 1965, moved to Cheshire and worked for Odex Racassan as Technical Sales Manager for eight years. The job took him all over the world.
Another move took him to Flintshire in North Wales when he was appointed Managing Director of Celtic Furniture Manufacturing Ltd. Then it was into business for himself with the opening of Venner’s Restaurant in Wrexham.
A heart attack forced him to sell the business in 1998 after 16 successful years. For the next five years he helped his wife run her outside catering business until she, too, had to sell because of illness.
Norman is involved in Freemasonry. As a Grand Officer he attends many Lodges and committee meetings. He is a past President of Wrexham Rotary Club and is currently vice-President of his local Conservation and Heritage Society.
He attends his local church regularly and when vice-chairman of the appeals committee helped raise £600,000 for renovations between 1996 and 2000.
He is helping his wife market a cookery book she has written to raise £65,000 for the Hospices of Cheshire and Wales. They are three-quarters of the way towards the target.
He married Patricia, a farmer’s daughter from South Molton, in 1964. They have two sons and two grandchildren.