Robert Norton was born Neubauer in 1932, in Teplitz-Schönau (Teplice), Czech Republic. His father was affluent, owned his own knitwear factory and business, and the family was assimilated. They fled to Prague in 1938 when Sudetenland was occupied by Hitler. Then in 1939 they escaped via Hungary to Britain on a transit visa to the USA, but were allowed to stay permanently in the UK. They lived in London, then settled in Leicestershire, where father set up a small textile business. They integrated well into local society. Robert’s education was disrupted, but after marrying he made a career as an export sales manager in large textile companies. He then set up his own business.