Volcano ash crisis hits drilling and tapping

The annual speed-plumbing showdown that sees water companies from across Britain and Holland pit their teams' skills against one other has been affected by the air travel lockdown.

As volcanic ash keeps Europe’s air fleet grounded, teams from beyond mainland Britain have struggled to make it to the Drilling & Tapping competition, taking place at IWEX.

Judge Charlie Dervison from Northern Ireland told edie that the Dutch team had been forced to pull out of the European competition – and the chance of a place in the global finals in the USA in the summer.

He recounted his own epic journey to Birmingham’s NEC, which should have been an hour’s hop over the Irish Sea to the neighbouring airport.

“We waited until the last minute to see if the flights would be okay, unfortunately they weren’t so the only other way to do it was by ferry,” he said.

As might be expected, however, the boats on the quickest route through to Birkenhead were packed solid so there was to be no ferry across the Mersey, which meant taking a detour via Glasgow.

“I had to hitch a ride with one of the lorry drivers there who very kindly let me have a lift,” he said.

“It took us over 290 miles and seven and a half hours to drive down here.”

What should have been a two hour journey lasted over 12 hours – but ended well, with the trucker dropping him off right outside the door of his hotel.

Meanwhile, the team from Northern Ireland Water had a similar tale to tell – again hoping against the odds that their plane would be allowed to fly but eventually having to accept that a boat trip to Scotland was on the cards.

“We’re dedicated,” they said.

“If we do win, then it won’t have affected our performance – if we don’t, well, then of course it was the journey!”

Sam Bond

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