Thursday, 24 February 2011

Are you alive there Brian ? Christchurch earthquake !.`

It's been a rough week. First my old friend from Red Cross in Geneva passed away on Monday, the earthquake struck my hometown on Tuesday, and an hour ago I got the news from my daughter that my old athletic coach and close friend for more than 47 years. Brian Taylor is missing in the Christchurch earthquake. The photo right shows Brian timing his athletes at QE II park in Christchurch, a photo I took in 2009,

The news says: Brian Taylor, the managing director of King's Education, who is presumed to be under the rubble of the collapsed building, returned to the CTV building at 12.30pm for lunch on the day the quake struck..

The Dominion Post writes:  His wife, Christchurch Girls' High School principal Prue Taylor, said he would have returned from a meeting about that time, though she had pored over different scenarios trying to imagine where husband Brian could be.

"We generated scenario after scenario of where he might be, because we don't actually know he was in the building ... but we're pretty sure he was. [He] would have arrived back as the earthquake hit."

She and eldest son Hamish biked down to the CTV building on the first night and waited for hours into the early morning, alongside other anxious families, offering each other solace and sharing stories of loved ones.

"Realistically, the chances are remote, but you hear about miracles ... and I think maybe there's going to be one here, and you hope maybe it's going to be ours."

Brian and Prue have been married for 46 years, after meeting at Otago University, and have two sons.  I went to theri engagement party in Dunedin, but missed their wedding as I was overseas

Prue said to the Press that her husband was a survivor..

"If there is a way to survive he will. He's a scientist by trade and he knows all about how the body works and about survival techniques ... and he's very determined."

That thought had brought her comfort in the first 24 hours, but hope was beginning to fade, she said.

She had been bolstered by a "huge network of support" including family – her youngest son flew in from Sydney yesterday – friends and colleagues. But everyone felt helpless, she said, as they resigned themselves to another night not knowing what had happened to Taylor.

"I just wanted to go in and pick up a shovel and help and do something [but] there isn't anything anyone can do."
They last saw each other at 6am on the morning of the quake, and even though this is a recovery operation, she hasn't given up hope.

“I'm not going to say it's futile until the policeman knocks at the door,” she says.

Ms Taylor, who is principal at Christchurch Girls High, says the decision to move the rescue operation into a recovery phase was hard to bear.

“I know if it was me in the rubble, Brian would have stopped at nothing to try and get me out and make sure everything was being done,” she says. “And although I can't get in there with my spade and shovel I know the people in there are doing their very best. It's a hugely difficult time for everybody.”

Brian’s son, Hamish, says the family are doing their best to be optimistic.

“We sit here and we just hope and pray for a miracle and I'm sure other families are feeling the same, but it's reassuring to hear they have gone back into the site,” he says.

She said it was "amazing" what the disaster had brought out in neighbours and community and she was grateful for all the support received.

Ninety students and staff from King's Education Ltd, housed in Christchurch's earthquake-ravaged Canterbury TV building, are either missing or unaccounted for.

Brian Taylor (right) and myself. January 2009.

Brian should have been with me in Sri Lanka on 22 February working with Colonel Madugalle, Vice President of the Sri Lanka Amateur Athletics Association. We had been planning to bring Brian over to train Sri Lankan athletic coaches in preparation for the next Coimmonwealth Games to be held in Sri Lanka. Brian was really excited about this visit and so was I. I had spoken to my boys about Brian being able to analyze their running style and coach them a little.

Tonight the little light blue box beside Brian's name on SKYPE has a cross beside it and strangely, for the last few mornings, I have missed seeing brianwtaylor pop up on screen showing me he is on SKYPE. I never bothered enquiring about him because 'Tails' was invincible and indestructable, or at least, that's what I thought.

Here is the SKYPE message Brian sent me on 31 December last year.

[31-Dec-10 10:38:13] Brianwtaylor: Hi Bob, Happy new year to you too. I can work on a date for the middle of Feb. I will try and check flights as well. We go camping on Jan 4 for 2 weeks. I will try to get flights sorted either while I am away or before I leave on the 4th. I will not have easy computer access, but cell texting is good, if you can send me your cell phone number. Brian

Sadly, we had to postpone his visit until March as the mid- February dates clashed with the Cricket World Cup being held in Sri Lanka and neighbouring countries. We should have stuck to that 10 day period starting 15 February 2011.

I will keep looking every day on SKYPE, hoping for the miracle, for the cross to change to a tick. Usually we chatted a few times a week, about his pending trip, and what we were up to in our lives. Often it was a quick "good morning, how are you."

Brian and Prue invited me to their home on New Year's eve 2008-09 and a few days later in January 2009 I spent time with Brian at QE II Park , where the 1974 Commonwealth Games were held, watching him coach his athletic squad. I wrote at the time: "

It was a joy to meet again with my former athletics coach, Brian Taylor, who lives in Christchurch and coaches some of New Zealand's leading athletes. Brian coached me from the age of 14 to 20, and as a group, we did some revoluntionary training, an expanded version of Arthur Lydiard's methods. In those days we ran more than 130 miles a week with often a 26 mile run over the hills of Dunedin on a Sunday. Unknowingly at the time, this endurance conditioning prepared me for exploration in later life and I owe a lot to Brian.Forty-seven years after he started coaching, Brian Taylor is still putting in hundred of voluntary hours a month coaching young people. It is role models like this that produce great sportspeople in New Zealand. They are New Zealand's unsung heroes.

Brian Taylor with some of the athletes he coaches. Photo: Bob McKerrow

The news about Brian being trapped in the CTV building goes on to say,

"Of those nine were staff -- King's Education managing director Brian Taylor among them -- 10 were from the Toyama Study Group from Japan, 13 were "new Monday starters" and 58 were "other students", according to the institution's website."

The school specialises in teaching English to international students.

Six of the 15 staff at the school had been accounted for, 11 students from Toyama Study Group had been rescued and 17 of the "other students" were safe.

Many of the rescued students had injuries and were in Christchurch Hospital, with one transferred to Auckland Hospital.

King's Education was opened in 1994 and in its last NZQA audit achieved a rating which put it in the top 5 per cent of New Zealand's English language providers.

Searchers were still looking for survivors in the devastated Canterbury TV ( photo left) and Pyne Gould Corporation buildings.

Friend David Gill wrote to Brian: "Brian, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family and all my friends and former colleagues at Kings Education. You have always inspired me Brian."
Another friend Jenny Roberts wrote: "Brian you have been such a good friend and mentor to me over the years."

I am still shocked thinking that Brian may be dead but am praying the miracle will ocurr and he will be pulled out alive. He is as tough as 'old boots', so if anyone will survive, it will be Brian.

Prue, I am unable to contact you but my thoughts, prayers and love and hope go out to you and the boys. Having been involved in earthquake rescue for over 35 years, you have to hope and pray for the best. In the West Sumatra earthquake in late 2009,  I ran the Red Cross operation and we were still finding people alive after 10 days, so there must always be hope until proved otherwise.

To sister Suzanne and Ross,  you must also be feeling incredible pain and grief. My love to you both.

Hang in there Brian. !

Read the comments by Jim Williamson and Nev Cleveland who, along with myself, were coached by Brian.

A photo of Neville (r) and myself in 1976 or early 77 after a 20 km run in Featherston.

Brian's Dad was a very famous man, Warrington Taylor, who had a huge influence on Brian and all the young athletes he coached: I convinced Brian to set up a blog to record his Dad's achievement. He asked me to do it for him HERE IS THE LINK

As you will note, Brian inherited many of his Father's qualities, a sense of justice and fair play, a belief in helping those who are struggling in life, and a curiousity that led him into science. And like his Dad, he disliked imposters, or phoney people. Brian was less of a diplomat than his Dad.


Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Brian's close friend in the early days was Jim Williamson who now lives in Spain, send this to me in an email.

Dear Bob
That was a nice tribute you posted. I am still reeling from the shock of the idea idea that “Tails” can be dead. We all knew his heart was in the right place, that he was essentially a good person who gave his time and effort unstintingly on behalf of others. The companionship we all shared – you, me, Tails, Rob, Graeme and others – has influenced all our lives and in a sense has defined our concept of the ideal of a close-knit group spirit, something I for one have always tried to reproduce in my crews. The same “work hard – play hard and all together as one” I remember his mother giving us whorehound to drink at the training camp (1966?)? before we took off on one of those 26-mile hill runs. The last time I saw him was 10 years ago when we went for a run together over the Port Hills. Christchurch was spread below us in pristine sunshine and we laughed and joked and also engaged in some serious talk about life, friendship and the strange tricks destiny plays on its children. This is the last and cruelest trick for Brian. he leaves an unfillable gap in our existence.
Here’s a hug across cyberspace. Jim

Anonymous said...

Hang in there Brian... hope you pull through..

Unknown said...

Hi Bob,

Very very sorry to hear that your friend Brian who has given so much and been such a positive influence on so many people, especially the young, may well have been taken away.

I am sure his spirit lives on in many like yourself who have taken inspiration from him and gone on to help others in similar ways.

Stay strong


Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Dear Jamie

Brian has a good heart, a strong spirlt and enjoys passing his knowledge and experience on to young people.

My heart goes out to Pru and the boys, and sister Suzanne.

Neville Cleveland said...

Hi Mac,
Was impressed with your tribute and Jim's comment about old times at Karitane and Brian.
I have been in touch with Pru and a lot of other friends as well.Pru appears to be in a strong state but feel for her family and the others who have provided a strong unit around her.
I have been in shock Bob, as we were one of his closet longest friends for over 50 years , and I did happen to speak to him the morning of that horrible event. When i heard about it and felt it I was in Dunedin.It was so difficlut to get my head around, knowing Brian was in that CTV Building.
We will all feel this pain for some time to come until it is closed out and after as he touched many people along his journey. I have not given up at all for him as we all know his determination has kept us all going during difficult times.
Please rise again Tayls as i know you will. I will miss our great conversions and the happy times, which are so many they were all as good as the last!
See you soon -Go well-Nev

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Nev, It the shock of the past few days and beuibg incredibly busy with a flood in Sri Lanka, I didn't see your comment until this morning. Yes, hope fade as every hour passes, but if he's trapped there with air, and a little water, he could make it. As Pru said, "he's a survivor."

We SKYPE a few times a week and I had noticed I hadn't seen his window with a tick on Wednesday, but never thought much of it. I put it down to communication being out. I was talking regularly with Ruia On Tuesday whose houses we spent time together in, in 2009.
I was more concerned about my old friend (Ed Cotter) 82, who lives on a friable cliff top overlooking New Brighton and Sumner.

It wasn't until late Wednesday night NZ time that Aroha phoned to say that Brian was missing in the CTV building.

Let's keep on hoping mate.

Can you give me a contact address for Prue, either email or phone ?

Good to have Jim Williamson's comments.

As you lived in NZ you saw more of Brian and were very close. I think you were the oldest and closest friend he had.

He, his Mum and Dad did a lot for us and we will always be grateful for that. I added a little more to the bloog story on Brian this morning.

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