Henry Cator addressing ADA’s 80th Conference ( photo courtesy of Aaron Scott Richards )
What a month of high emotions this has been. From the sad and shocking losses of industry stalwarts such as Anthony Morbey, Tony Worth and most recently Tim Hall who many of you will know from the EA’s now closed Gainsborough Office, to the highs of one of our most successful ADA conferences in many years. It has indeed for me been a period of psychological roller-coasting. Henry Cator so very aptly mentioned in his valedictory Conference speech that it is our collective health and wellbeing that underpins how our society conducts itself, which in turn is directly influenced by the environment in which we live. Whilst I finish the month in a very optimistic mood, please do remember in these winter months to support those who are perhaps not so optimistic about our future.
ADA’s 80th Anniversary Conference was an inspirational example of how we can come together to celebrate success, discuss and debate current issues, and promote water management as a major part of our environmental, social and economic wellbeing. It also allowed those all-important network opportunities to continue sharing experiences and mutual learning. I am hoping that with a bit of agile booking management, we did manage to accommodate everyone that wanted to attend this year, but we were a bit close to capacity. At Conference, we also welcomed the new intake of students at Brunel University on the Flood Foundation Degree Course and there are plans to make that a curriculum feature in future years to allow our new, enthusiastic students to get a first-hand experience of the strategic issues facing us all in the water level management business.
ADA was once again this year honoured by an industry-leading line up of speakers including Minister Dr. Thérèse Coffey, Sir James Bevan, Cllr Derek Antrobus and Lord Deben.
I was very pleased that Dr Coffey emphasised the value of ADA’s members and the work they all do in providing an essential public service, as well as committing to work more closely with us on a number of key issues. I was also delighted with the support shown by Defra and EA staff towards ADA’s Conference, reflecting the ever-increasing importance of the working relationships and public sector co-operation developing between the EA, IDBs and Local Authority members.
Sir James Bevan’s excellent speech continued theme of the importance of collaborative working and his adept handling of the harder questions from the floor demonstrated his interest and keen support for the good work being done to collectively manage our water levels, drainage and flood risks.
I much enjoyed Derek Antrobus’s vision of how the design of sustainable flood risk management solutions in combination with the creation of space for public recreation has considerable social value in a wide variety of ways. Whilst I have not yet managed to visit the projects he referred to in Salford, my recent experiences of visiting the Connswater Greenway project in East Belfast left a lasting impression of the considerable good that can be done to general health and social wellbeing by creating a wonderful green, multi-use corridor along a flood-prone watercourse in an urban setting. And for those Van Morrison fans, I even visited The Hollow which he sings about in his famous 1967 single “Brown Eyed Girl”.
Finally, Lord Deben’s rousing send-off for Henry quite poignantly highlighted Henry Cator’s lifelong commitment to public service. His clear message was around the value of people giving that service for the greater good and when could that be more relevant than now in this period of considerable change and uncertainty ( climate included ) for Britain.
All of us would do well to try to follow Henry’s example.