Sadly we have lost two long standing, loyal and charismatic branch members, Neil and Caroline McLachlan. Caroline died in March and Neil died on August 1st. Caroline was, for many years, a highly respected lecturer in the education faculty at the University campus in Caerleon. She also served as chair of governors at Lodge Hill Primary School for a long time, and briefly occupied the governors’ chair at Caerleon Comprehensive school. She played a leading role in the Newport Kutaisi Twinning Association and was also a member of the Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council. She was a pillar of the community and we will miss her terribly..
Neil, with his guide dog, was a familiar figure in and around Caerleon. He was passionately supportive of Labour, and would probably describe himself as well to the left of centre in the party.. He never let his blindness get in the way of leading life to the full. He had an important job as a research scientist at Llanwern steel works and commuted there daily on public transport and by foot, helped by his dog. He kept himself fit with regular visits to a gym, and edited an online news service for blind people using a specially designed IT system.
He was raised in Southern Africa by Scottish parents and went to school and university there before moving to the UK. He traveled extensively with Caroline. during their life together, to various parts of the world. His most amazing achievement was to help set up a world record for blind mountaineering in 1990, joining a small group of like minded blind people in the Himalayas where, assisted by guides, they climbed to an incredible altitude of more than 21,000 feet, despite extremely hostile conditions. The expedition was filmed and can be seen on YouTube under the title of Blind Summit.
Both Neil and Caroline were inspiring people in so many ways, and they will be sorely missed. Our deepest condolences to their daughters, Abigail and Amy and their three grandchildren.