Hill, Graham

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Norman Graham Hill was born in north London on February 15, 1929. He claimed he inherited his determination from his mother and his sense of humour from his father, a stock broker. Both qualities were required to endure the deprivations and dangers of life in wartime London, where Hill grew up during the Blitz. He played drums in a Boy Scout band, went to a technical school and at 16 became an apprentice for the Smith instrument company. He bought a motorcycle and on a foggy night crashed it into the back of a stopped car, suffering a broken thigh that permanently shortened his left leg. In 1952 he joined the London Rowing Club, took to the sport like a duck to water and would later wear the club’s insignia (eight vertical stripes representing oars) on his racing helmet. Before that, however, he had to wear a Royal Navy uniform, in which he felt like a fish out of water. He resented the compulsory nautical service and as a sign of protest deliberately contravened naval regulations by cultivating the neatly trimmed moustache that would become his trademark.

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