Paying tribute to our incredible volunteers

25th June 2020

For more than nine years now, Norman Beer has been one of the unsung heroes here at Bill Richardson Transport World.


Like most volunteers, Norm doesn’t like to blow his own horn – but we know his contribution, and the contribution made by all of our dedicated volunteers, is one worthy of celebration.

This week is National Volunteer Week, and we think there’s no better time to pay tribute to the incredible team of people who generously give their time to ensure our spectacular vintage vehicle museum keeps ticking over. We simply couldn’t do what we do, without them.

So why does Norm do it?

“You’re a volunteer because you want to do it. You wouldn’t do it if you didn’t want to be there – but I certainly want to be there,” Norm says.

Norm started volunteering at Bill Richardson Transport World around Easter 2011 – back in the days when the classic truck museum was open by appointment only.

He’d first met Bill Richardson back in the 1960s or 1970s, when he was working as a mechanic for T R Taylor’s garage. Norm’s brother, Lindsay Beer, was also well-acquainted with Bill’s son-in-law, Scott O’Donnell, through their association with the Southland Sports Car Club.

“The rest is history, as they say. It’s been a long time, but it’s felt like it has gone quickly.”

After retirement and sadly losing both his beloved son and wife in just a matter of months, Norm himself says being able to come into Bill Richardson Transport World gave him a purpose.

“Ian Ridd was the man I dealt with back in those days. On my first day, I came in and he said, ‘do you want to grab a duster’, and that was that,” Norm says.

“I treat it a bit like a job in that respect: I come in at 9.30 and do two hours, three days a week. That’s just my routine. I’ve found, living on my own, it gives you something to get up for. It gives you a real sense of purpose too.”

Norm is quick to point out he’s part of a team effort: Bill Richardson Transport World and Classic Motorcycle Mecca both continue to look their best in large part because of the efforts of a group of volunteers as well those from the workshop team.

As for what Norm enjoys the most about his time at Bill Richardson Transport World? Well, that’s easy.

His favourite vehicles in the collection are an REO truck that was virtually identical to one his father used to drive, and our 1994 Kenworth. But for Norm, volunteering at Bill Richardson Transport World is about much more.

“I love the vehicles, of course, but it’s mainly the people. It’s the friendship. I have smoko with the boys [from the workshop] each time I’m in, and I really enjoy that. Plus, before anyway, you met people from all over the world,” Norm says.

“People often get talking to you, and you hear where they’ve come from and why they’ve come here. Just the other day a lady was taking some photos while I was doing my dusting, and I went to step aside but she sort of motioned me back and said, ‘no, can you get back in please’. It’s nice to feel part of the place. I’ve just got to thank Joc and Scott, and Mrs Richardson – as long as it’s all right with them, I want to carry it on.”

To Norm – and all of our volunteers – thank you.

Your efforts are valued by all of us here at Transport World.