Challenges, friendships and low-flying horses

Like many people, Nick Cornwell-Smith wasn't sure what he wanted to do when he left university.

He knew he liked science. He was good at it. That's how he ended up with a degree in biology back in 1977. Nick also liked a challenge. Anything that would test his abilities and throw unexpected obstacles in his way. That's why he joined a caving group at university. He still goes caving today.

But career-wise, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do. So he just took the first job that came his way - a job in health and safety.

Now, over thirty years later, Nick feels lucky. He says health and safety was exactly what he wanted to do. He just didn't know it at the time.

Nick found the work suited his love of all things technical and scientific. And he says health and safety has thrown new challenges his way, almost everyday.

One such challenge was developing and running a NEBOSH Diploma course while working as a lecturer at Grimsby College. He achieved good results. Nick himself was one of the first people to gain a NEBOSH Higher Certificate back in 1981.

He's now Force Health and Safety Adviser at Lincolnshire Police. Nick says this can be quite challenging too. It's not easy striking a balance between the inevitably risky nature of policing and health and safety.

One time, he had to make sure a police re-enactment was carried out safely. This involved three life-sized plastic horses and a Chinook helicopter! It followed an incident where a horse had thrown its rider after being spooked by a low-flying helicopter. Nick had to manage the risks - in particular, ensuring the plastic horses didn't also turn into dangerous low-flying objects.

Nick's just been elected Chairman of the Association of Police Health and Safety Advisers. He's used to this kind of role. He's been President of IOSH in the past, and is still a nationally elected member of the IOSH Council.         

Nick says that without NEBOSH he may not have had the career and the challenges he's enjoyed so much over the past 30+ years.

But what he values most, are the friendships he's found through NEBOSH. Like-minded people like Ray Hurst who took his NEBOSH qualifications around the same time. Others he's met through subsequent courses and through teaching NEBOSH. He says many are friends for life.