Lessons to be Learned

By BVAA Director Rob Bartlett

By now, most of us are no more than a couple of degrees of separation from someone who has sadly died of a Covid-19 associated illness.

I rejected ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ for the title of this issue’s Comment on the grounds of it being misinterpreted as insensitive, which would be far from my intention.

It would however have illustrated my point that strength comes from adversity, and the key is to learn from it.

My own parents lived as young adults through the last war. In addition to being intentionally starved (so the Government could spend the money saved on food to buy weapons, then later pay debts), they both held down second jobs on top of their energy-sapping agricultural posts, and all the time lived through the grimmest of news, the threat of invasion by murderous megalomaniacs, and on one famous occasion, actually being bombed.

This atmosphere produced two incredibly hard-working, amazingly good-natured, optimistic, resourceful and above all else, kind and generous people who seemed to know everyone we met. Back then, people helped one another, not just because it was necessary, but because it was the right thing to do.

It brought home to me that working from home for a few weeks with email and telephone, in a centrally-heated room with to-the-door delivered food on tap, isn’t really such a tough gig.

Lessons to be Learned However, I have watched my wife troop off to work in the NHS every day throughout the crisis. She was fearful, anxious, but always went anyway, despite the mortal risk. As did hundreds of thousands of her colleagues. Often without the PPE that they needed, and frankly deserved, and some paid the ultimate price for their dedication. Some still may.

I was lifted however by our industry’s response to the crisis. BVAA played our part in getting the right advice out in timely fashion and creating new services to replace those we could no longer render.

Members however went the extra yards, by urgently making components for lifesaving ventilators and other specialised equipment, by re-tasking their resources to make PPE for nurses, and by using their contacts on the ground to source sorely-needed products – things they wouldn’t do, were the situation normal.

Key for me however was the complete evaporation of reticence about asking for desperately needed help.

Everyone realised that we are a great big family, and being a member of that family gave one an entitlement to ask people we knew of, but often barely knew personally, to help their fellow man. And unless you are completely soulless, I don’t think any of us objected. We just wondered how we could help somehow if we couldn’t help with that particular problem.

If after all this is over, we could just capture that spirit in our daily lives, my God the British Valve industry would be invincible!

We need to be like my parents, to remember, and to take those valuable lessons learned and apply them every day, not just in a crisis.‘Stronger Together’

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 53

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