Sichuan and our good friends

Over the last year China has frequently been the focus of these columns, and it was only six weeks ago that we were in Chengdu and Deyang. Both are in Sichuan Province at Chengdu is about 50km from the epicentre and Deyang, although a little further away was closer in to the area affected.

Both suffered considerable damage, but far less than the mountain towns that were more or less destroyed. All of those we work with in both towns are well and the buildings able to function, although at the University of Sichuan some of the old style dormitory block suffered and the students are still more than a week later sleeping outside as the aftershocks continue.

In Deyang Decision Chemicals has new single story buildings and from what we can in imagine and from what we have heard all is well. But unconfirmed news reports do say that 6000 people died in the town and 5 schools collapsed.

It is all such a contrast from the dynamic excitement which so has enthused Dr Wilkinson and I on our recent visits. We know how hard our colleagues have worked to achieve so much in the last decade or so, and how much the BSLT and the University as a whole, from the Vice Chancellor down have enjoyed working with them all. Hospitality, efficiency, clarity of vision and high level of intellect have so much characterised all the meetings that have been held in China and in Northampton. It is easy after such a devastating event for depression and lethargy to set in and for all to become demoralised. We know that things will not be the same and that some priorities may have to change. Yet we do remain even more determined than ever to play our part to make the planned outcomes successful and to try in all ways possible to help our friends there and those about them to quickly bounce back from this dreadful tragedy.

Mike Redwood

22nd May 2008

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