10 Years On

 In Comment, Gill's Blog

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It is not often (in fact it has only happened twice) that work has taken me abroad. 10 years ago I was invited by STEP to help with the STEP Diploma revision course in Bermuda – two local Banks had a number of staff who were to sit the accounts paper and for various reasons no-one was available from the usual team to deliver it. I was in two minds because it involved a week away and during that week it was my 15th wedding anniversary. Little did I realise that saying ‘Yes’ would be quite so unforgettable.

Preparing for the course involved a trip down memory lane as I had to visit with one of the accounts tutors who had been a lecturer when I was a student at the College of Law in Chester. I can’t say that the prep was the most fun I had ever done but it got done!

To assauge my conscience and to ensure that to-day is my Silver Wedding anniversary, I invited my husband John to come with me – I was so glad I did..

We arrived in Bermuda on Saturday 8 September to be told that it was the first time in 30 years that the island was in for a hurricane that was likely to hit by the next day so the whole place was battening down the hatches and the wind rose and rose.

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Next day we walked down to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club to see where I would be presenting the revision course for four days and invigilating the exam – it was in a lovely location on the sea front right next door to a major building site. Oh joy!

We started the course on Monday 10 September and the noise from the building site was terrible. The delegates were delightful though and we muddled through with one or two people missing as they had meetings for work over in New York and would join us the following day.

And then it was 9/11 – who could have known the sheer horror of that day. The hurricane had passed us by. I had sold my soul to the builders on the site to persuade them to reduce the noise and we started the day in high spirits. By coffee time everyone turned on their mobile telephones and they started going off around the room. To say that we were all shocked and stunned by what colleagues were telling us was a profound understatement. The staff at the Club put a TV in the Bar and we sat and watched in real time the scale and misery unfold of the horror.

One of the delegates who had been in New York the previous day had been in a meeting in one of the Twin Towers……..

How the delegates, many of them knew people working in the Twin Towers, were able to focus for the rest of the week I shall never know but to their eternal credit they did and the majority of them passed their exam.

I shall not forget where I was on 9/11.

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