Norman Houston OBE: Larne primary school’s garden tribute to late diplomat

Friends and family of Norman Houston OBE have attended a special ceremony at Corran Integrated Primary School, Larne, to officially open a garden project in memory of the late diplomat.

Norman died suddenly in January of 2021, shortly after retiring as director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington.

His unique role saw him act as ambassador in all but name for Northern Ireland to successive governments in both the United States and Canada.

Joining the civil service straight from school in 1975, Norman would go on to become a regular fixture in the Oval Office, presenting local politicians to three different Presidents and advocating for an end to segregated communities in Northern Ireland.

Baroness May Blood pictured with artist Shauna McCann, principal Denise Macfarlane and pupils at the Corran Integrated Primary School garden.

He was a great supporter of integrated organisation and for the past year the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) has been involved in the garden project in partnership with Corran Integrated Primary School. This has been made possible thanks to a generous donation by Monah and Alan Gettner in New York through the Ireland Funds. Norman introduced Monah and Alan to IEF’s work many years ago and they have remained committed supporters ever since.

Baroness May Blood, campaign chair of the IEF, said: “Norman was a great advocate for integrated education, and for Northern Ireland as a whole. While he could open doors in the White House and charm the rich and powerful, he never forgot his roots, and always kept an eye out for the young people visiting Washington as part of the various exchange and intern programmes. It’s wonderful to return to Larne where Norman grew up and this wonderful project is the perfect way to remember a man who quietly worked to change history.”

Chloe Huston, Norman’s daughter, was present at the ceremony. She said: “My Dad spoke often and highly of the IEF and I know how strongly he felt about the importance of integrated education in NI. This is one of the many great outlooks he has passed down to my brother Connor and I and we are absolutely delighted at the garden project at Corran and we know dad would be too. We support this idea fully and want to thank everyone involved.”

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