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Inspiring generations: The legacy of Maureen Norris

May 16, 2023

Maureen Norris is a name synonymous with gymnastics in Tasmania. Her journey began almost 40 years ago when she enrolled her daughter Kim in gymnastics classes at Lynwood Gym. Little did she know that this would mark the beginning of a remarkable career in the sport.

A couple of years later, the teacher stepped down from managing the club and Maureen decided she’d take over. With the help of senior gymnasts and mothers whom she trained to be coaches, the club’s numbers started to grow. Inspired by visiting the YMCA gym and their Gym Skills program for all ages and abilities, Maureen started offering a similar Gym Fun program at Lynwood. It was a hit, attracting media attention and led to even more people signing up.

However, some parents complained about their children having to do gymnastics with children who had disabilities or learning problems. Maureen was “taken aback and couldn’t find the words to reply”. She found that the children with disabilities and their parents couldn’t thank her enough for providing fun and some simple skills in life.

In 1995, Maureen resigned from her position and was approached to apply for the position of General Gymnastics Coordinator for the state of Tasmania. She was appointed and became a board member, traveling to attend monthly meetings and hold workshops around Tasmania.

Interest and development in gymnastics in Tasmania continued to grow and it was then that Maureen stepped down from her board role to work full time as office administrator for the sport. She shared the role with a lady called Vicky Hawker, who lived with the side effects of Thalidomide. Maureen describes her as an “amazing person who did everything from typing to driving with her feet”.

Shortly after the Board decided they couldn’t afford to pay Vicky’s wages and the President came unannounced and sacked her on the spot. Maureen, remembering the harsh words towards people with disabilities she’d heard previously “saw red, spat the dummy & resigned at the end of that week”.

She went on to jointly manage the State Championships and facilitated all the coaching courses in Tasmania for many years. Her hard work and dedication were rewarded when she was nominated for the Win TV Sport & Recreation Official of the year. In 2000 she was awarded a certificate and medal by then Prime Minister John Howard for her contribution to the sport of gymnastics in Tasmania. Along with Coaching Director Bob Wherrett, she put together the 30 year history of Gymnastics Tasmania, launching the book in 2002.

Maureen has also volunteered in many areas, including door knocking for various appeals and volunteering for the Free Masons Bowditch Hostel in Lindisfarne. She continued volunteering even after having a stroke which led to mobility issues. In 2004, she participated in the World’s Greatest Shave, raising $1000 through family and friends. Recently, she completed an appeal for the Homeless in Hobart, collecting enough items to put together 40 packs, which were packed up by the Salvation Army.

In recognition of Maureen’s enormous contributions, Gymnastics Tasmania has established an annual award in her honour. Her legacy continues to inspire young gymnasts to pursue their dreams and give back to their communities.

CBS is proud to provide care to Maureen so she can continue to confidently give back to her community, she is truly an inspiration.

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