THE winter of 1962-63 is the third coldest winter ever recorded.

I was a 17-year-old student engineer and during that wicked winter I worked in the laboratory at the gas works in John Street, Darlington.

Due to the vicious weather, demand for gas was running so high we struggled to make enough and all of the plant we had was operating flat out. One of those pieces of complex equipment made the town’s gas from oil, which was delivered in tankers.

I well remember working a seven day week and in particular having to dip in the tankers to ensure they were full.

This task involved climbing a frozen metal ladder, walking along the top of the tank, opening the hatches and inserting a measuring rod, often in a snow storm.

It was perilous to say the least.

So, when I heard a teacher complaining about the need for a risk assessment before he would even contemplate returning to school, I realised that our country has lost its way completely.

DW Lacey, Newton Hall, Durham.