15 February 2024 – From Valerie Knowles 



Hi Reg, It has occurred to me that some of our former colleagues who worked in Pubns, Graphic Design and Print will remember ‘Billie’ Williams. She was my EO when I joined Pubns and she retired in the 1980’s. I’m still in touch with her and I should have let you know last year that she reached her 100th birthday and received her communication from the King. I spoke to her on her birthday recently when she was 101. She still has a very keen mind and is in good health generally.

The above photo shows Billie and myself when I visited her and her late sister Edna, (who was a secretary at HMSO) at Brundall on 9 May 1991 and we walked to Blofield church.

I hope this is of interest to some.

Best wishes, Valerie


Hello Valerie, Excellent to hear from you, and with good news. So rare these days. I take ‘Billie’ to be Miss Norah Williams, born 9 February 1923 – established within the Civil Service on 19th April 1947 – joined HMSO on 5 November 1962 – promoted EO on 25 January 1971. Good to hear that she is up and about and that you keep in touch.  

Best wishes, Reg.

Tim Riley adds: Billie was indeed Norah Williams. Elegant, shrewd and quietly humorous. She was, like Ivy Lee, one of Derek Newton’s EO team in P12 on the other side of the Atlantic House corridor from Dev’s P1 team of Norah Henderson, Doris Hastings and Gavin Turner (and then me). I remember Billie’s mild horror during a meeting at the amount of sugar I spooned into my tea. Andy Woolway defended me: “He’s still a growing lad”. Alas I have grown a lot further sideways in the 53 years since then.

Philip Marriage adds: Wonderful news – thank you Valerie! I think I can say for all of us in Graphic Design that we remember ‘Billie’ with warmth and affection. Neatly dressed, quietly spoken and calmly efficient, she led the ‘Museum’ team in Pubns handling the production of prestigious books for the national museums many of which had demanding authors. I don’t recall her ever needing to raise her voice. It’s so good to know she’s still enjoying a well-deserved long retirement.

Pubns 1971 Chart_569a

Tim may find this chart of interest – part of a fuller chart drawn by John Westwood in 1971 – showing ‘Billie’, Ivy Lee and Norah Henderson’s teams alongside Kath Daviss with Tim himself as P1a.

Fred Stubbs adds: Hi Reg, Great to have some good news – I enjoyed working with Billie, she was so efficient and a very pleasant refined lady.  She lived near me in Brundall and I pass her old house every day and think of Billie as I go by. Best wishes to her at 101. Regards, Fred.