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."
“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 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
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.
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 http://warringtontaylor.blogspot.com/
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.