Handy man to have at Uluru

MOORLAND icon Norm Lambert a violin repairer and restorer said he was in the right place at the right time.

The place was Uluru, the occasion was Symphony of Uluru, performed by the Darwin Symphony Orchestra.

Norm went there with his daughter and son-in-law, Christine and Robert Albury.

"As I do, I went up and spoke to the musicians at halftime,'' Norm said.

"I happened to mention that I repaired violins. They said 'can we use you.'"

The dry heat had shrunk some of the violins.

"They came from the moist air at Darwin to Uluru and they didn't take that into consideration,'' Norm said.

"I told them I'd do what I could to help out.''

He faced an immediate problem in that he didn't have any instruments with him. However, he fashioned some out of coat hangers and with Robert, went to work.

Norm's been repairing violins for 50 years but he admits this was a tricky operation.

"They were in dire straights,'' he said.

The orchestra still had one performance left and it was looking as though the violinists wouldn't have any violins.

"We managed to get the bridges and the sound posts back in,'' Norm said.

Some of the cellos were also damaged.

"But I wasn't going to touch them,'' he said.

"They had to be shipped to Melbourne.''

Norm and Robert's handiwork was enough to ensure the violins were back in play for the second and third performances.

"There was about 1000 people there and I was called onto the stage and they thanked me. I got a big cheer from the crowd that included our former federal member, Mark Vaile. I felt humbled''

In gratitude, the orchestra has invited Norm to visit them in Darwin. As luck would have it, his grandson is currently living there, so Norm's heading there next year.

And he might just call in a favour.

"I'm going to see if they'll come down here and perform at Port Macquarie or Taree,'' he said.

"It would be great if local people had the opportunity to see them.''

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