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Jennings, Norman (Norm) (1934–2009)

by Alex Hawke

I rise today to pay tribute to the life of a great Australian and a great member of our community in Mitchell. Saturday, 14 February 2009, was the day Australia lost an ingenious inventor and Rouse Hill and Mitchell lost a favourite son. Norman Jennings was born on 14 July 1934 and grew up to invent what would become one of Australia’s most iconic products, Dynamic Lifter. Dynamic Lifter is on a par with great Aussie icons like the Victa lawnmower and the Hills hoist. Dynamic Lifter is that much-loved but smelly garden product that was produced by pelletising chook poo. It was invented and marketed by none other than Norm Jennings of Rouse Hill. The original factory, on the corner of Commercial Road and Withers Road, is long gone, but the unmistakable smell of Dynamic Lifter in gardens across this country and abroad may well outlast religion!

Norm was the quintessential blond-haired, blue-eyed Australian, who loved everything about his beloved country. From humble beginnings, Norm became an engineer at the Clyde goods yard near Granville. He loved learning about how things work. He especially loved cars. He also loved to fish. He was clever with his hands. He loved nothing more than making something old new again. Seeing over 700 members of my community at the service of thanksgiving for his life brought home to me how important he was to all Australians but particularly to people in the north-west of Sydney. Many people, including Don Burke, Jack Iori and other locals, were there to pay tribute to and recognise a man who did so much for his country and achieved so much with his life.

It was Norm’s passion for making old things new again that eventually led him to master the art of how to turn smelly old chook poo into one of the most marketable garden products in the world. This was a long and complex process for Norm. It was a life work. His wife, Nadia, was responsible for coining the phrase ‘Dynamic Lifter’, and they were indeed a dynamic partnership. Norm was a dynamic man.

Norm came from simple origins. He worked for his family throughout his life. He loved his family dearly, but he always had time for other people. He supported his community, through membership of service clubs, through donations and through charitable giving. On every occasion there was a worthy cause, he was there to share the wealth that he had produced with those that were less fortunate than him.

Norm was a foundation member of Kenthurst Rotary. He gave up much of his time on behalf of good causes, but he was a great Australian who never forgot his humble beginnings. He treated everyone with respect. He spoke ill of no-one. He was one of those great people with whom you instantly feel as though you have known them for a long time. The first time I had the privilege of meeting Norm, it was as if we had known each other for many years. He spoke to people of great importance and of lesser importance equally.

A great story was told at Norm’s thanksgiving service about the first time he met John Howard. Norm and a friend crashed the SCG Trust box in order to be introduced to the Prime Minister. His opening remarks were: ‘Hi John, I’m the king of chook poo!’ That is the kind of man he was—an ordinary Australian. His other great love was fishing. He delighted in taking anyone he met out to his favourite fishing spots around the lakes. The tributes paid to him by his friends, his children and his grandchildren were moving in the sense that he always shared his passions with others. We heard many times that, if anyone ever became seasick, he would take them back close to shore and tell them to swim the rest of the way as he had to get back to the fish, especially if they were biting! Many people were dumped off the boat unceremoniously into what they thought was shallow water, only to be soaked from head to toe.

As I said, there were 500 or 600 people present at the thanksgiving service at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Kellyville. It was a moving service which paid tribute to the life of a man who contributed so much to our community. On behalf of the Mitchell community, I want to pay tribute to Norm for his life and I extend my condolences to his wife, Nadia, and his children and grandchildren. Thank you, Norm, for a life so well lived.

Original publication

Citation details

Alex Hawke, 'Jennings, Norman (Norm) (1934–2009)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/jennings-norman-norm-27765/text35475, accessed 28 October 2021.

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