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Lesley Norfolk-Pearce: In Memoriam

British Ice Skating is saddened by the news of the passing of Lesley Norfolk-Pearce on May 8th 2024. Lesley was a world class skating coach who was responsible for the development of many champions, as well as achieving great success as a pairs skater in her own right.

A message from Lesley's daughter, Natasha:

It is with great sadness that we share the loss of our mum and grandma Lesley Norfolk-Pearce who passed away peacefully yesterday. Lesley was a world class skating coach and a much loved member of our family who will be missed greatly and remembered fondly.

She leaves a legacy of many champions who have become coaches themselves because of her influence. Away from the rink, our children have enjoyed a lifetime of her support and love in all of their activities as she played a big role in all their success and will miss her greatly.

Lesley’s funeral will take place on the 13th June 2024 at the North Wiltshire Crematorium in Wootton Bassett at 12pm, followed by a celebration of her life atThe Sun Inn, Lydiard Millicent. We would love to see as many of you there as possible to celebrate and reflect on her wonderful life as mum, grandma, and friend with us 🌺💕⛸️

In lieu of flowers, donations to the P.O.R.T charity would be greatly appreciated. 

Lesley Norfolk-Pearce | Obituary | By British Ice Skating Historian Phil Hayes

Lesley first took to the ice post-war at Richmond and joined the National Skating Association in 1950. Lesley was “noticed” almost from the beginning and was taught, at the time, by Pat Curle. She was described as being a prize pupil for the annual Wembley Novice competition, and in face came third from a very large entry in this very important competition for young skaters. She was not the only Norfolk family member skating at Richmond as she was joined on the ice, by her younger brother Timothy.  


Lesley passed her prelim and Bronze tests quite quickly and finished off 1950 by passing her Inter Silver figures and free; remember, she was only 9 years old! 1951 began with a pass at prelim dance, and during her amateur career she would go on to pass Inter Gold Figures and free, Gold pairs and Gold Ice Dance.


Lesley was such an accomplished skater and entertainer that that she was a regular soloist in the many Galas produced at Richmond from a very young age. In 1953 her teacher, Pat Curle was interviewed for “Skating World” magazine and during the interview said that her best pupil to date was Lesley Norfolk. Praise indeed! 

By 1955 Lesley was partnered with John Pearce for both Pairs and Ice Dance, taught by Arnold Gerschwiler for pairs and Don Crosthwaite for dance. In their first year they placed 3rd in the British Junior Pairs championship. 1956 was a good year for the newly formed partnership. They did well in the Southern Counties Championships, won the British Junior Pairs Championships and were runners up in the Senior Championship.


The 1950s passed quickly and by 1959 Lesley and John took the next step in their skating lives together by turning professional and moving to the other South London rink, Streatham, to teach. Although they both taught separately they also worked as a team and in May of 1959 achieved one of their early successes as professionals when they won the British and World professional Pairs Championship.


During their time at Streatham the duo guided many of their pupils to championship entries, wins and podium places at all levels. Some of their notable pupils were Linda McCafferty and Colin Taylforth, Harold Williams, Linda Davies and Haig Oundjian among others.


Their working partnership was cemented in 1967 when Lesley and John married. Their daughter, Natasha, was born in 1972 and she eventually followed her parents career choice when she joined the coaching team at Swindon. John retired from the ice and with Lesley embarked on a new career as publicans, but sadly John passed away far too early and Lesley moved to Swindon to resume what she knew best - a life on the ice.  

Lesley coached very successfully at Swindon until she retired in the early 2020s. She put Swindon on the skating map when her pupils first had great success at novice and Primary level. She then had numerous Junior Championship entries - Becky Holden, Emma Thomson, Ross Thomson, Tanya Cook, Donna Read (Seabrook) are a few that come to mind, but her most memorable results that made Swindon the rink to go to for success were at senior level with skaters like David Reynolds, David Ings, Andrew Seabrook, Joanna Webber and of course her champions, Zoe Jones and Jenna Arrowsmith. Some of her pupils, like Zoe, Andrew and others followed her by also teaching at Swindon and other rinks. Lesley even took the rink manager, Clive Seabrook, through his Inter Silver dance test! 

She certainly kept the family connection alive - not only did her daughter Natasha teach for a while, but I am sure she was very proud of one of her more recent successful pupils, her granddaughter Isabella, whose skating was beautifully artistic, and who won the 2010 Advanced Novice Ladies British Championship. 


After over 70 years on the ice and over 60 years since she started teaching Lesley has left a legacy to be followed by her pupils, who she inspired to achieve their own successful careers and will miss her deeply.

Lesley’s funeral will take place on the 13th June 2024 at the North Wiltshire Crematorium in Wootton Bassett at 12pm, followed by a celebration of her life at The Sun Inn, Lydiard Millicent. In lieu of flowers, donations to the P.O.R.T charity would be greatly appreciated.


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