Remembering a Wonderful Mum: Norma Bell (1936-2016)

Me and mum. Photo taken using my Kindle camera on 6th January 2016.

Now I come to write the post that I was dreading writing because I didn’t quite know how to articulate my feelings in a way that would do them justice. However, I could not not write a tribute to Mum on here.

Simply because it just wouldn’t sit right with me to write a review of The Chaos Engine on Steam or to do a books vs. TV show comparison piece on The Strain or to comment upon Stanton Peele’s recent opportunistic exercise in sabre rattling in his predictable hatchet job article about TSM on Alternet (conveniently timed just ahead of Claudia Christian’s TEDx lecture… surprise, surprise).

No. I instead had to write about this. I had to write a tribute to Mum.

As I wrote on Facebook on 17th May, 2016:

So today we got to say goodbye and pay tribute to our beloved Mum – our hero. I have only just come back from the wake and, all things considered, it all went very well and she got the send-off she really deserved. I think that she would have been deeply proud of the dignified way that her family were able to hold it together so well despite having to also labour under the burden of the circumstances in which she was prematurely taken from us.

Again, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone for their kind, comforting words during this sad time. Also, it was lovely to be reacquainted with so many old friends… thanks for that… it is touching to know just how many people loved and thought so highly of Mum. Everybody thinks their Mum is special, but do you know what? Ours really was… more than even I ever truly appreciated until now. Bless her

Regarding the statement “labour under the burden of the circumstances in which she was prematurely taken from us”, it is a matter of public record that she was the victim of a homicide and that her home was robbed and set fire to. But I don’t really want to go into any of that, just because it is painful to discuss and I also need to be mindful of due process given the subsequent arrest and pending court action against the suspected perpetrator.

But yes, these last eight weeks have been emotionally stressful. How could they not be?

Thankfully we’re a big, strong family so I know we’ll get through this with love, courage and dignity. We’ll do Mum’s memory proud, I’m sure. We are united and we will prevail.

Speaking for myself, I’m as proud as hell to have called Norma Bell “Mum”. As devoted foster carers she and her husband the late John (AKA “Dad” – sadly missed) took me in as part of their family when I was just ten days old and together they gave me a wonderful childhood and, as I got older and developed many of the little glitches that come with adulthood, never gave up on me and left a real imprint on me – helping to shape me into a far better man than I might have been had I never known them. I have much to be grateful for. This is the reason why I am proud to now carry their surname.

And it is this that I shall choose to remember in the years ahead – the joy and the laughter and the warmth… not the way that Mum was cruelly taken.

I will not let that have power over me. I could so easily let this turn me into a cruel, embittered man but I will not simply because I was raised by good, kind people to be better than that.

In fact, just regarding my previous social media work surrounding The Sinclair Method, here’s a little-known fact: I might not have put myself out there and got into it all as much as I did if not for Mum.

After Claudia Christian had asked me whether I would be interested in taking part in her wonderful documentary One Little Pill I agonised for a while. I didn’t immediately say “yes” just for the simple reason that I was afraid of the exposure that it would bring and it was in fact Mum who helped put my head straight on whether or not to take part.

Mum: “Will this documentary help save lives?”

Me: “Yes, probably.”

Mum: “Then you should do it“.

…This coming from a woman who was quite risk averse in the way that she would always be the first to try to shield me and any of her other children from any potential dangers in their lives.

But, you see, she had seen how much healthier I was, how TSM had worked for me (and is STILL working, I should point out) and – bless her heart – being the type of person that she was always thought of ways to help other people above her own needs. And that is how she stirred me out of my own moral cowardice on the issue and I subsequently hopped on a train to London to spend the day with a certain American actress and a certain well-known South African psychologist for the filming of OLP.

So her benevolent influence has indirectly touched a lot of people, I think.

“You save one life, you save all life”.


And on that note I’ll say farewell for now.


Peace and love,


Author: Gary Bell

Gary Bell is a writer, illustrator and teacher based in Hartlepool in the north east of England. The Sinclair Method (a revolutionary pharmacological treatment for alcohol addiction) saved his life over 5 years ago.

5 thoughts on “Remembering a Wonderful Mum: Norma Bell (1936-2016)”

  1. I was at a funeral service yesterday in London and thought of your mum and you. I’m glad she got a good sendoff. I’m also glad she encouraged you to take part in Claudia’s film and to help promote TSM. You are also helping a lot of people like your mum did, and I am sure this is what she would want.

    1. Thanks, Mike. The truth is, I’d agonized for ages over exactly what to write because I knew I had to write something… especially given that it’s eight weeks on since Mum was taken, but I just needed to get my head together to write something to do her some justice.

      It’s hard given the burden of the circumstances, y’know?

      But I knew that I had to.

      Thanks for your kind words. Yes, Mum was a remarkable lady… a real one-off; just a beautiful soul. She will be greatly missed. Bless her. xx

  2. I think that some events of our life need to get mourned and then let go, despite we naturally tend to cling on them. Our beloved ones wouldn’t want us to despair. They would want us to be serene.

  3. I agree. She wouldn’t want me to spend all my life suffering with grief and anger – which is why I make it my mission to be happy; that’s my way of honouring her memory. <3

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