Curdridge Parish Council


Neil Evans 1933 - 2013


Neil was often described as a gentleman.  For people who met him for the first time, this would be a reaction to the meticulous way he dressed, with suit and tie, polished shoes and neatly trimmed moustache.  For others that knew him better, this went deeper than the simple exterior.  These people had experienced the underlying principles he lived and worked by, crowning of which his sense of honour.

The people that knew him best knew a man with huge compassion for and empathy with others, a resolute, totally principled, man always ready to help and support anyone.  All of these qualities made him a truly outstanding gentleman.  Consistent throughout Neil’s business and personal life was his strength, energy, honesty, perseverance, and  truth-to-say,  sheer bloody mindedness in never giving up.

These are the qualities that made him so special. He was always ready with sage words and support, able to admit when he was wrong, but more importantly he gave encouragement never criticism.

He was born in 1933, a beloved only child for Alice and Glyn.  His early years were spent in Cardiff being sent to boarding school at the age of 8.  Upon leaving school he joined The Daimler Car Company as an indentured apprentice.  At the end of his apprenticeship he had the honour of becoming a Freeman of the City of Coventry.

Leaving Daimler, Neil joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).  True to his character he joined as an officer cadet.  This was an unbelievable achievement for someone, who had not attended University and was committed to serving only his National Service.   Neil did possess truly outstanding abilities and determination.  Posted to Germany it was again very much against all odds but he secured married quarters which were the absolute preserve of senior officers only.  Marrying in October 1955 Neil embarked on the road that gave him greatest joy in his life, namely his family.

The next 15 years were spent working for Shell Oils.  The desire to run his own business however led Neil with his closest friend, Noel Coplestone, to purchase a filling station and car repairers in West End, Southampton. Viking Garages was born. Neil worked tirelessly since 1972 to build the business - many men would have broken in the face of the obstacles and difficulties that presented themselves over the years. He took them in his stride and was relentless in overcoming them. Viking will be a lasting legacy to him.

It was a wonder how Neil was able, with all these pressures, to give so much to other people.  Round Table and Rotary for which he served two terms as president were very important to him.  He was closely involved in many charity and fund raising events.  Young carers weekends through Rotary and a youth crime prevention initiative at Fairthorne Manor in conjunction with Eastleigh Borough Council were two activities that were particularly dear to him.  As ever he was freely giving of his time.  The only reward he sought was the friendship which I know he received from those around him.  For many years he served on Curdridge Parish Council becoming Chairman for the last 3 of those years.
(With thanks to the Evans’ family for a transcript of their eulogy for editing)




Norman Hibdige 1930 - 2013


In making this tribute to Norman. ’Our Norm’, as Dora would say. She would also say under her breath what’s he letting me in for this time? You see they were a team and they worked so well together. I can’t begin to portray what Norman did for Curdridge, but quietly he donated his retirement to the village it’s community and eventually to Winchester City Council.

You all have special memories of our friend Norman Hibdige but I want to try and recall his accolades as I knew him, an unsung member of Curdridge. In the early days pennies made pounds. There was so much going on in village life, collecting for the guide dogs for the blind was his treasured charity, followed by scouts and Curdridge show for the upkeep of the Reading Room.  He arranged for the collections of silver paper, ring pulls from coke cans, milk bottle tops these were all weighed in to make money for the training of guide dogs, whereas like many others, his garage would be full of paper as a few pounds could be raised by baling up paper and selling it by the ton.

His work at the Ordinance Office probably made him the perfectionist that he was and this showed in everything he did, from his garden, the envy of many, to his work as a Parish Councillor and onto Winchester District Council where his service excelled. He was awarded the honourable position as Mayor of Winchester in 1997-1998, as a thank you to his services.  We in Curdridge shared that year with both Norman and Dora; we were invited to Abbey House and various functions. They tried to include all of the village organisations, as well as family and friends.

Norman worked tirelessly for the liberal party and must have walked around Curdridge so many times delivering leaflets. their home was party  HQ at election time, and still Dora coped with all the upheaval and comings and goings. At one time you may have thought Curdridge was true blue .That didn’t matter, we all liked Norman and he would win every time. He was such a decent man, honest and said it, as it was. Norman was a good listener and one of the most difficult rolls as a Councillor is to hear both sides and make a judgement without upsetting either. He was a good mediator, and helped many people with their problems. As a fellow parish councillor, I relied on Norman for his experience and valued his input. He probably knew more about Whitley and its development than any other member of Winchester City council having been a committee member since its inception some 40 years ago. At the Parish annual meeting we would always rely on Dora to come in and make the tea.

Curdridge show horticultural tent. This was Norman’s Chelsea Flower show! Both he and Dora made the task look like a doddle but the work that went on behind the scenes and Norman’s perfection, his checking and cross checking entrees and all the cards being made up, the tables all had to be measured and covered. It really was a delight to see when all was laid out waiting to be judged.

Norman enjoyed life and was determined to preserve the cultural enjoyment for other generations. He even elected to trial a new drug so as to help others.  He was always ready to help and was a minibus driver for the friendship club and shopping journeys for many years.

To Norman we can only say thank you, and what a privilege to have known them both. And Dora who has been on autopilot caring for him so dutifully. Even planting the potatoes and beetroot at his latest request. ‘You can plant the beetroot in the greenhouse,’ they all came up,’ how many did you plant,’ the whole packet she replied, probably a little exasperated he said’ well you will have to thin them out’. Right up until then he was making sure all was in order. So I say Farewell to our friend a job well done, a life’s work achieved!

(Marianne Small)