William Noot was a self-taught water colour and oil painting artist. Those close to him knew him to be a modest man who would never blow his trumpet about his skill. He painted purely for the joy of it. He never sold his work to earn a living but he was always happy when people appreciated his efforts.
His paintings have been bought by many people over the years, which is testament to his well-earned and growing reputation as a celebrated artist.
A newspaper clipping from a Tunbridge Wells paper (about 1959) says it all:
No beard, but he made the first art sale
Minutes after the open-air art exhibition of Tunbridge Wells Town Council began at the the Pantiles on Monday morning, a beardless artist, looking very much like the civil servant he is, sold a water-colour for two guineas. So to Mr Bill Noot of Hastings went the honour of making the first sale of the annual exhibition. He apologised for his inartistic appearance. "I suppose I should have a beard. I was thinking of growing one," he said, stroking his smooth chin. Shortly after Mr. Noot had set up his watercolours, an elderly lady asked if she might buy one of them. " I was so surprised, I thought I had won the pools," he said. "The people who seem to have money never buy. That is why you are always surprised when you make a sale."
William was born in London in 1918.
Like many of his generation William was caught up in the events of the Second World War. He voluntarily enlisted into the British Army on 16 October 1939 joining the 1st Battalion, The 5th Queen’s Royal Regiment, at the age of 21. With his regiment he saw his first action in France with the British Expeditionary Force and after some tough fighting he was evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940. The ship he should have embarked upon was bombed and sunk with much loss of life, but he later escaped the beaches on HMS Vimy. When he landed at Dover he was given a 10 shilling note and told to find his own way home!
Later he was sent with his unit to join the 8th Army in North Africa, where he joined 7 Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats. William took part in all the campaigns of the 8th Army, seeing action at El Alamein, Tobruk, the invasions of Sicily and Italy, the D-Day Landings in Normandy, the Crossing of the Rhine and the fall of Berlin.
Along the way he was hospitalised with yellow jaundice, suffered skin infections to his feet from the poor diet and the necessity of having to keep his boots on for weeks and months on end. He lost all his closest chums he had joined up with. Despite many a close shave and numerous hardships he survived the war unscathed, and was demobbed on 5 May 1946 a few months before his 28th birthday.
Later in 1946 Bill joined the Civil Service and over the years rose to become a Higher Executive Officer – no mean feat for a man whose finishing school were the battlefields of the 8th Army and the rigours of a devastated post war homeland.
In 1979 William retired and although he had been painting for many years he now had more time to indulge in his passion.
William passed away at his home in Exeter in 2005.