Monday, 14 March 2016

A personal response to the AAIB report on the Shoreham Airshow disaster

       Hello and welcome to my blog. Last week saw the publication of the interim Air Accidents Investigation Branch report on the RAFA Shoreham Airshow disaster.
     The investigation's purpose was clearly stated in the report;

"The sole objective of the investigation...  is the prevention of future accidents and incidents. It is not the purpose of such an investigation to apportion blame or liability.
Accordingly, it is inappropriate that AAIB reports should be used to assign fault or blame or determine liability, since neither the investigation nor the reporting process has been undertaken for that purpose." (AAIB Bulletin S1/2016 Special)

      Yet the moment it was published, the scalp-hunters descended. The organisers were the obvious target. It was implied that at best, they were incompetent, at worse, complacent. Commentators forgot that these organisers are also members of our community; dedicated volunteers who had raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for RAFA in bygone years. 
     By pandering to the blame culture, the raison d'etre of the AAIB investigation was ignored. In so doing, the press also missed the fact that the investigation meant that the victims had not die in vain. 

(L-R top row Matt Jones, Matthew Grimstone, Jacob Schilt, Daniele Polito, Mark Trussler, Graham Mallison L-R bottom row, Maurice Abrahams, Mark Reeves, Richard Smith, Dylan Archer and Tony Brightwell courtesy of The Telegraph online)

     Because they died, weaknesses in CAA processes and procedures have been revealed. These weaknesses can now be eliminated or strengthened and safety at UK airshows improved. Despite the tragedy of their deaths, these men have left a huge legacy and one of which the families should be proud and we should be grateful.  The focus should be on that and not on finding scapegoats. 
     Thanks for dropping by and see you soon with an update on my preparation for the London Book Fair. 

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Building up to the London Book Fair

     Hello and welcome to my blog.
     I hope you enjoyed Cowspiracy. It was a revelation to me but then I saw Irene, one of my regular readers. She'd heard the same message way back in the '70s from Delia Smith and Colin Spencer. I didn't know whether to be delighted or disappointed. Either way, we are still keen to reduce our consumption of meat and dairy and increase our intake of plant-based food.
      The Universe must have approved of our decision because it coincided with Vegfestuk in Brighton. Vegfest organises the largest Vegan Festivals in Europe and I popped in last Saturday. It was like walking through the wardrobe to Narnia. Everyone, apart from me, seemed committed and well informed. I played catch up by attending a talk on how milk can leach calcium from bones, and sampling the wares in the food court. They were surprisingly good, so our aim will be easier to achieve than anticipated.
     Turning to Shoreham Beach matters. Did you go to Saturday's meeting at the Church of the Good Shepherd? I missed it, (because I was at Vegfest), but apparently 200 people turned up to discuss the proposed redevelopment of Beach Green.
      Beach Green is our only publicly owned green space. It has a large concrete toilet block in the middle and over the years, various proposals have been submitted for its' redevelopment. Another proposal has now been received from Wilbo's Restaurants Ltd. It would like to demolish the toilet block and some adjacent beach huts and build on the entire green and part of the adjoining Nature Reserve. It would then like to construct:-
  • a three storey restaurant, 
  • an ice-cream and milkshake bar, 
  • a skate park, 
  • a volley-ball court,
  • a children's play area, 
  • a pitch-and-putt golf course and 
  • a bike hire.
      I think it's too ambitious and hiring bikes beside a Broadwalk upon which cycling is prohibited,  is asking for trouble. Opinions for and against the proposal are being sought, so if you would like to add yours, contact Shoreham Beach Residents' Association.
       Turning to more personal matters, I'm preparing to pitch William Earl's war memoirs at this years' London Book Fair.  Regulars will know that I've spent the last seven years researching and writing about this 100-year-old's war experience as a Nursing Orderly in the Royal Army Medical Corps.  William served in North Africa and Italy and his extraordinary story records his transformation from a unremarkable chemist's assistant to a heroic medic who helped to recover the injured from the front line, evacuate them under fire and bury those they couldn't save. No first-hand accounts of a Nursing Orderly have been published before so I'm honoured to be the first to re-tell the story of these extraordinary men.  
     I'll let you know how I get on, but in the meantime thanks for dropping by and see you soon.