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Norman Dugdale (1921 - 1995):
Civil servant; poet

Norman Dugdale was born in Burnley, Lancashire, third child of William and Eva Dugdale, and was educated at Burnley Grammar School and Manchester University, where he obtained his BA in 1941. He joined the Board of Trade as an assistant principal and moved to the Ministry of Health and Social Services in Northern Ireland in 1948. Highly able, he was promoted assistant secretary in 1955, senior assistant secretary in 1964, second secretary in 1968, and permanent secretary in 1970. He was one of the central architects of integrated services between general practices, acute and social services.

He retired from the civil service in 1984 and served as chairman of the Bryson House charity, was a trustee of the Pushkin Trust, and a governor of the National Institute for Social Work. In 1985 he was appointed to the Board of the British Council. At that time, the Council had advisory committees for Scotland and Wales but not for Northern Ireland A member of the Council from Northern Ireland inquired as to why this was and was told rather innocently that no-one had ever asked for one; the member reacted by suggesting that one be established, which it duly was, and recommended Dugdale, with his impeccable and distinguished civil service career, and extremely cultivated (especially artistic) outlook as its chairman, to which post he was duly appointed.

He was also a poet, and published four collections: A Prospect of the West (1970); Corncrake in October (1978); Running Repairs (1983); and Limbo (1991). The second, third and fourth of these were published in Belfast. His work has been described as being of "elegant style and sometimes austere tone" as well as "elegance and technical poise" and as having "found a permanent niche in the literary imagination of his chosen place". A fellow poet, Padraic Fiacc, called him "one of Ireland's most unjustly neglected poets. Classical in his tone and craft, he was the last Alexandrian."

Dugdale's wife was the well-known painter Mary Dugdale; the Ulster Society of Women Artists has an award, the Mary Dugdale Cup for Portraiture. Dugdale was appointed CB in 1974 and awarded an honorary D.Litt. by the University of Ulster in 1983.

Born: 6 February 1921
Died: 27 October 1995
Richard Froggatt

Wesley McCann