Sir Torquil Norman
A charity created to benefit children and young people, the Norman Trust, established by Sir Torquil Norman, his wife and supported by three family member trustees, gave a 99 year lease to The Roundhouse Trust in addition
to a commitment of £6.7 million to provide a national performance venue
and creative centre for the most disadvantaged.
As chairman of both Trusts, Torquil Norman has sought to address social exclusion through the arts. Torquil graduated in Law and Economics from Harvard and Cambridge. After graduation he served as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm. Various other positions after leaving the Air Force have been as a banker with JP Morgan, a general manager at Mineral Separation Ltd, and from 1973, a Chief Executive of Berwick Timpo Ltd, a toy manufacturing company. He founded his own toy manufacturing company in 1980, Bluebird Toys, which saw sales of £100 million within 12 years. Torquil’s experience in the toy industry brought him to working closely with young people and propelled him to establish a creative space for the young.
Awarded a CBE in 2002 for services to young people, Torquil has been motivated to help those without formal education. Living close to the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, he was part of a debate, which was ignited as a response to the social detriment, caused by disenfranchised youths in the area. While his neighbours denigrated juvenile delinquents as ‘feral youths’, Torquil sought a remedy to the situation to counter such derogatory and depressing remarks.
Adopting the Roundhouse as a creative centre for youth has been his answer to this.
He has searched for a model for the Government to adopt to help unprivileged youth throughout the country. Roundhouse aims to showcase to all stakeholders the importance of using the arts to build, instil confidence and train an otherwise neglected segment of society. The main goal of Roundhouse is to equip the youth with the necessary skills to fulfil their dreams. A unique Creative Centre is set to accommodate an expected 10,000 young people a year, in addition to other services on offer which will provide the first few steps in rehabilitation, training and social inclusion. Acknowledging that hundreds of thousands of people are interested in arts education, but do not have access to it, or are unable to participate due to financial constraints, Torquil believes he has found a practical solution to many social problems experienced by children and young people between the ages of 13 and 23. Services on offer include state-of-the-art media facilities for radio, TV, new media, print production and design. The Centre also aims to provide training services to older people up to the age of 35.
The Norman family’s commitment to this project is exemplary. The Norman Trust’s endowment is projected to provide an income of £200,000 a year to Roundhouse in addition to helping subsidise training courses. Awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours List, Sir Torquil has actively engaged and incorporated young people in decision-making through the Youth Advisory Board.
“A legendary building that will be re-established as one of Europe’s most dynamic performance spaces and one of the world’s most exciting Creative Centres for young people.”
The Roundhouse, 2005