First, I can't let today go by without paying tribute to Nelson Mandela. I was in South Africa for a few weeks in 1978 starting up a chemical plant, and despite the beauty of the country found many things unacceptable. I have to say that the factory of the Wellcome Foundation came pretty close to being properly integrated but outside I saw many instances of awful behaviour and attitudes. Nelson Mandela showed a level of forgiveness, compassion and statesmanship that, in my opinion, made him the most impressive and inspirational man in my lifetime. If only other politicians, in both Africa and closer to home, showed the same degree of humility and understanding our future might look a lot brighter.
We all waited for the great surge that the high tides on Thursday night and Friday would bring, and in Kent the areas most at risk were at Sandwich and Faversham. Although there was some damage the improvement in the forecasting of such events and in the flood defences meant that the dreadful scenes of 1952, when 307 people were killed in the UK, were not repeated.
At Sandwich it was sad to see the Salutation garden under water and they are trying to salvage the remains of one of the biggest privation collection of plants in the country, The head gardener Steve Edney estimated around £100,000 of damage. Will I was looking at the sad sight I said to the chap next to me that the amount of salt in the water would be a problem for the future. I was astonished when he said "Is the water salty then?" Dooh!
The area next to the River Stour is low lying and acts as a reservoir when the river floods, I presume that this helped save the town,