It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our founder, Chris Wilkinson.
Chris passed away peacefully on 5th December after a short illness. He had retired as Chairman of Norton Insurance in early 2020, after 55 years’ dedicated work in the business he created.
In 1965, having got his start in insurance selling insurance door to door, Chris decided to strike out on his own and set up Norton Insurance as an independent brokerage.
In these early years Chris was often known to work on the road, arranging meetings on the dashboard of his Austin Healey Sprite. He would sometimes borrow his father’s office, which was shared with a tailor – Chris would have to arrive early to tidy up piles of fabric and half-finished suits ahead of meetings.
In 1967 he opened the Alum Rock office, and business quickly picked up. Two more offices soon appeared in Erdington and Northfield serving the local communities.
Always with an eye for the next opportunity, Chris’s love of classic cars was instrumental in his spotting a gap in the market – a gap which saw Chris become one of the pioneers of the classic car insurance scene, helping to create a dedicated insurance product which today is offered across the country.
The conception of the Heritage Car Insurance brand took Chris and the business from a passionate local insurance provider to covering the UK as a whole, and Heritage remains one of the leading and most respected classic car insurance brokers in the UK today. Around the same time Chris also created Tradesure Insurance to cater to the motor trade, recognising a need for a commercial aspect to the business.
Colleagues remember Chris as a man who wrote his own rules, who loved a fast car and was always on the dance floor at parties. He had a good sense of humour and was quick with the one liners. Decades back, it wasn’t uncommon to walk into Chris’s office and find him enjoying a cigar, the scent of which was always recognisable in the office. A shrewd businessman, Chris moved with the times and he always brought people with him.
Over the years, Norton developed as the needs of our customers did. Chris stayed at the helm, bringing his son Mark on board in 2002. Mark became managing partner in 2014, and Chris remained as Chairman until his retirement in 2020.
Chris is remembered fondly by the many colleagues with whom he worked for years and decades, and with love by his family.
He leaves the business not only as one of the last truly independent brokers in the field, but one which is valued by its customers and respected in the industry. His legacy of hard work, customer-centred service, and striving for excellence will be continued through the business in the years to come.
The family of Chris Wilkinson have requested no flowers. Anyone who wishes to can donate in Chris’s memory to Alzheimers Research UK here.