Rotarians welcomed Christian Wilcox to speak at their meeting and were enthralled by the tales of hell and high water as Christian told how he wrestles with the elements on a daily basis as an engineer, firstly for The Environment Agency and currently working for Natural Resources Wales

As well as discussing the general state of current waterways and flood defence capabilities he also looked back at a somewhat hairy incident earlier in his career.

He was based in Shropshire in 2007 when the summer turned to winter and during June and July deployed temporary flood defences along the River Severn. Having been prepped and ready to deploy barriers at Ironbridge the water stopped rising and the risk was set to pass. It was then a call came through that the situation at a National Grid substation at Walham, Gloucester was critical, and he needed to get down there, right away.

Christian said, “The management told me to get to Gloucester as soon I possibly could and – by the way – bring all the flood barriers we have with you as we need them here to avert a national disaster. Well, no pressure then! We managed to transport all the equipment to the area but when I arrived it was apparent that I didn’t have enough staff to erect the barriers and the water was still rising and threatening to fuse the electricity supply to over 600,000 homes including hospitals, prisons, and GCHQ. I liaised directly with COBRA, the government office, and suddenly a helicopter arrived carrying, what seemed like, a regiment of Gurkhas. Just as you thought being knee deep in flood water, in the middle of high voltage electricity facility was risky, these guys turned up in camouflage in the middle of the night to help!

We swiftly showed them how the defences worked, and they assembled them in double quick time and catastrophe was narrowly averted. All this took around 26 hours and luckily, the flood waters slowly dropped after that. It was a big event to happen so early in my career, but I look back on it as a great learning experience and a job well done”.

Andy Boroughs, Borderland president added, “Rather more than just a job well done, you were presented with the Queen’s Jubilee Medal by the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown which implies a little more than just another day at work!”

Andy Boroughs, Christian Wilcox & Rob Hughes.