Out in the field: Looking for positives

THIS week I have spent some time at the inquest into the death of Michael Pritchard death which is currently taking place at the Town Hall.

Some of the details which have emerged over the last few days are astonishing.

The fact that a British soldier was shot dead by a fellow servicemen is tragic enough, but the fact it happened not in the midst of a frantic fire-fight, but after he had been watched by a sniper for some time before the trigger was pulled, that colleagues had been radioing warnings that they were being wrongly targeted, that he was standing on the roof of a British observation post which itself was in a restricted fire zone and that permission to open fire had been denied, must make it impossible to bear for his family.

His mother and father have both sat through every minute of the inquest. Their frustration is imaginable but they have remained dignified throughout.

Whatever verdict the coroner reaches will not bring Michael back.

But there clearly are lessons which need to be learnt. And if that can prevent this sort of tragedy happening again than at least something positive will come out of the whole sorry affair.

There are no winners here. A family has lost a loved one and the sniper responsible will no doubt be haunted by what was without doubt a terrible accident.

One detail to emerge was the difference between the ideal scenarios and what was actually possible in the real world of close conflict.

If our Government is going to commit people to war zones, they need to do so with the man power and equipment to enable them to do their job as safely as possible.

AS THE designated health reporter here at the Herald (I drew the short straw on that one) I have got to know quite a few people who work at the DGH.

Every single one has impressed me with their professionalism and dedication.

With key services apparently under threat our thoughts should go, not just to potential patients who could face a trek to Brighton or Hastings, but for the staff who could lose their jobs or work in increasingly difficult circumstances.

The DGH is a huge employer in the town. It is almost like a village.

The changes being proposed will affect everyone, but none more so than the staff who shrug off each unpopular management decision and get on with the job of treating people.

They deserve our utmost support and thanks. They really do this town proud.

YOU WILL often find photographers become the public face of local newspapers.

While reporters have to prioritise where they go, the photographers attend almost every event in town.

They are the face people recognise, the person they stop in the street and, more often than not, the one they try to ply with tea and biscuits at whatever job they are covering.

That is certainly true here in Eastbourne where Steve Curtis has been carrying his camera all over town for years.

Steve is currently off recovering from an eye operation and the office and, I imagine, most fetes, coffee mornings and events are not the same without him.

Get well soon Steve