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Bristol Distinguished Address Series
UWE awards hononary degree to Norman Biddle FRICS
18 November 2005
Issue date: 18/11/05
The University of the West of England is awarding the honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration to Norman Biddle FRICS in recognition of his contribution as a leading member of the Bristol business community and his exceptional commitment to higher education and charitable and civic endeavours including his ‘Bristol Guild of Guardians’ support for the Lord Mayoralty and the Mansion House. The honorary degree will be conferred at the Award Ceremony of the Faculty of the Built Environment on Wednesday 23 November at 11.30am at Bristol Cathedral.
Norman Michael Biddle was born in Cardiff and attended Howardian Grammar School. He joined the firm of Symonds and Partners and after qualifying as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, became a partner in 1963.
As a partner, Norman Biddle took on responsibility for company offices in Bristol, London and in Saudi Arabia where for over thirty years Symonds and Partners managed the technical department of the Saudi Arabian government’s Ministry of Finance. He advised Her Majesty’s Treasury on the privatisation of the Public Services Agency and on the introduction of “The Private Finance Initiative” and formed a joint venture with the British Crown Agents in facilities management.
Norman Biddle led Symonds and Partners development into a broad based multi-discipline consultancy company operating globally and employing over twelve hundred people. In the 1980’s he became Chairman of the company.
In the 1990’s Symonds and Partners was sold to the French company General Des Eaux (Vivendi) and Norman Biddle became Group Managing Director of Vivendi UK Co, Dalkia. However seven years later Vivendi sold Symonds back to a second generation of its employees, following which Norman Biddle retired from the firm after forty years of service.
Since retiring from Symonds, Norman Biddle has taken up a number of non-executive Directorships of companies, including: Edward Ware Homes; and, Jonathan Webb Sports Injury Clinic. He is a strategic advisor to Artichoke Cabinet Makers; and, a Director of Chantry Developments and Chantry Services. He is also Chairman of the Board of Age Concern Enterprises Holdings.
Following riots in the St Paul’s area of Bristol in the 1970’s, Norman Biddle advised on the formation of the Zenzele Self Build Group. This consisted of ten unemployed people who built their own homes. The project was highly successful as all ten individuals subsequently became employed and acquired a considerable equity interest in their own homes. The project became a model for other schemes in the United Kingdom and was “highly commended” in the first year of the Times/RIBA Community Architecture Awards.
Norman Biddle serves or has served as: Master of the Bristol Guild of Guardians, which supports the Lord Mayoralty and the Mansion House; a member of the Council of the University of Bristol; a trustee of the Wallscourt Foundation, a charity which supports the University of the West of England; and, as a trustee of the Quartet Community Foundation. He is a ‘green feather’ member of the Bristol Savages.
As Chairman of the private sector appeal for the new Bristol Children’s Hospital, Norman Biddle helped raise over twelve million pounds. He is currently technical advisor to the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, assisting in the preparation of its redevelopment plans and related Heritage Lottery Fund application.
Norman Biddle is married to Vivien, and they have four children and 10 grandchildren. He lists his interests as: rugby, travel, walking and the arts.
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