I promised myself that I would not comment upon the Didcot disaster again this year.
With investigators still sifting through almost 900 tonnes of material evidence, the police have issued a well-meaning but ultimately meaningless statement that offers no new insight; no sense that the investigation is nearing its conclusion; and no closure for the families of the four men so tragically killed. The interminable six-month wait those families endured while the bodies of their loved ones were recovered has subsequently been compounded by an even longer wait for answers as to why those four men – Michael Collings, John Shaw, Kenneth Cresswell, and Christopher Huxtable – died so needlessly.
Eventually, we might all learn precisely what happened on that fateful day. There is a possibility that this insight might allow the global demolition industry to embrace safer methodologies, to seek out new ways to carry out demolition that remove men and women from the work face one and for all. It is also possible that the lessons learned from that single tragic incident might be applied during the demolition of the world’s remaining coal-fired power stations and that they will be dismantled without incident as a result. All of that will have to wait, however, while the wheels of justice grind slowly to a conclusion. Any attempt to speculate or make assumptions now could prejudice the inevitable court case that will likely follow the investigation; and that would merely prolong the suffering of the four families whose patience and integrity has already been tested enough.
What we can take away from that fateful day now, however, is the industry’s response in the immediate aftermath; a response that is repeated up and down the country and across the demolition world as each anniversary of the Didcot disaster dawns.
No incident in the global demolition business has united the industry more. The tragedy crossed personal, company, trade association and national and international borders to bring the industry together as one in sadness and in respect. And while I would gladly swap all that to return those four men to their families and friends safe and well, THIS must be their legacy.
So whether you choose to mark the third anniversary of the Didcot disaster with a four-minute silence, a minute of quiet contemplation, or by simply taking extra care of the man or woman working beside you, let us all remember the families for whom the sadness continues and the anguish persists. For just a moment, let’s set aside our business rivalries, petty squabbles and our meaningless gripes.
The demolition industry is a global family; a global family that shares a common language, regardless of their country of origin; a global family that shares the burden of grief and responsibility when its own is taken. And as a family, we must come together in sadness and respect for Michael Collings, John Shaw, Kenneth Cresswell, and Christopher Huxtable; and for the families so cruelly robbed of their presence.