An invitation was extended to myself to visit the SA section of ASNT as a meeting was planned to coincide with the World NDT Conference which was being held in Durban South Africa, the first time on African soil, which the ASNT chief executive Wayne Holliday was attending.
The SA section assisted in travel arrangements and I arrived in Johannesburg on Friday the 13th , luckily I am not superstitious and met with some of the section members that evening for an informal introduction.
I had never visited South Africa before and so I was given a "guide" Hans Beukes and we became firm friends during my stay. The section had arranged a social evening at a local theatre which included pizza with Garth Appel and his wife Syl, Elaine McDonald and the picture shows Hans Beukes with his wife Sonia. The entertaiment was a professional show called "The Final Countdown" which was a run through of hits from the 60's, 70's 80's and 90's all acted and performed by a band and a group of singers / actors.
The following day myself and two of the section, Hans Beukes and Elaine McDonald, set off early in the morning (6.45am) and drove down to Durban, which is located on the East coast 570Km from Johannesburg.
Johannesburg is the financial and commercial heartland of South Africa, while Durban is South Africa's key port and one of the busiest ports in the Southern Hemisphere
The trip took 7 hours but provided some spectacular views and gave us time to discuss the issues the section faces with such a vast country. We drove down the famous National Road N3, which is the main link between Johannesburg and the province of KwaZulu Natal, where Durban sits at the Indian Ocean.
The route runs through Harrismith, Ladysmith and along the mighty Drakensberg mountain range. From there, it takes its most dramatic drop down through Van Reenen Pass into the rolling dairy farmland around Mooi River, and the Midmar Dam near Howick. At Pietermaritzburg, the road makes another dramatic drop down into the city.
We had meetings planned from Sunday lunch onwards so I took advantage in the morning to walk down to the Beach.The Durban beach front is very impressive with large rolling waves and is a magnet for families and surfers.
Monday saw the opening ceremony of the World NDT Conference, at which ASNT had an exhibitors stand, which the section manned for the duration of the conference along with Wayne Holliday. We fielded questions about recertification, ACCP, delivery of examinations and two serious enquiries about new sections in Italy and Cameroon. It was fantastic to have Wayne on hand to discuss all aspects of ASNT with the delegates sometimes it felt like all 1,400 had been to the stand with various points. ASNT had provided many table top brochures and magazines, but the demand was so great we ran out of ASNT membership forms and issued the web site downloads instead.
The South African section was instrumental in inviting over 300 young gifted school children into the conference during the week as part of it's NDT outreach programme. (60 children per day)
It's members delivered presentations and goody bags to these academically gifted teenagers encouraging them to seriously consider NDT as a profession.
It's not easy keeping 60 kids interested, I watched Hendrik de Wet try whilst the kids sprayed MPI ink all over the African NDT Centre stand.
I met a lot of section members whilst on this visit and as hectic as it may have been, I wish to thank a number of people who without their help the visit would not have been half as rewarding. Firstly my thanks go to Elaine McDonald, the powerhouse of the SA section who helped with the trip organisation and booked myself and Hans into the Albany hotel - the one with a taxi rank outside - no sleep for the tired !!!
Ben, Brian and Garth for all the discussions about Steam raising plant and ACCP !!
Patrick Garland for teaching me more swear words !!!!!
The SANDE team who made me feel so welcome and did not laugh to much when I ate the Chilli Boerworst .
A big thanks to the guys from SA Air force, Chris, Chris and the Tree Trunk behind us !!!!
An evening to remember with the guys and girls from Rohloff who invited me for a Poike, pardon the spelling, (Lamb Stew) and for teaching me some excellent Afrikaans greetings - never to be mentioned again in public or in front of women.
Last but not least Hans Beukes, who made the whole trip a joy. We undertook a road trip, toured Durban on foot and in his wonderful "Bakki" He took the time to introduce me to all his colleagues around the conference, he is an absolute star and a truer gentleman I could never wish to meet. I have made a true friend.
Region 18 Director Mark A Ormrod
Benjamin Beetge – Chairman
Patrick Garland – Vice Chairman
Brian Dadford – Treasurer
Elaine Macdonald – Secretary
Garth Appel – past Chairman
Johannes Beukes – Membership Chairman (Top Guy)
Hendrik de Wet – Educational Chairman