A great success – that was the verdict on the Families and Friends Open Day at Culham on 6 September. Some 1300 staff and guests (including Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith who took up his post as Culham Director the following Monday) took advantage of a wonderfully sunny day to view the major experimental areas at Culham and take in displays, talks and activities throughout the day. It was also a splendid opportunity for recently arrived EFDA secondees to explore the whole site. Liquid nitrogen, JET robot arm and pressure suit demonstrations were particularly popular with children (of all ages!) and due to high demand, queues built up at times to enter the JET torus hall, but no-one seemed to mind. A virtual reality JET “fly-through” created by JET Remote Handling staff was another huge attraction, with 12 PCs in action all day. Even grandparents who had never operated a computer before were persuaded to try their hand at finding their way through a “virtual JET”. Talks on fusion, JET and ITER, and the new interactive Fusion Road Show, describing fusion science with tricks and demonstrations and derived from the original Dutch Association Road Show, were all packed out.

Children were well catered for with magic shows, a mobile planetarium and a room full of scientific puzzles and experiments. They could also enter a competition drawing or relating their experience of the day, with a prize of a levitating magnetic top as used in the Fusion Road Show. A jazz band entertained in the restaurant at lunchtime and the pig roast staff never stopped carving from noon till two. Many diners chose to eat al fresco in the warm sunshine. The brilliant weather was matched by the enthusiasm and good humour of the ninety staff “on duty” and the question everyone was asking at the end of the day was ”when’s the next one?” Quote from Chris Warrick: “Staff at Culham are proud of what they do – and clearly relished the chance to show this off to families and friends. The high numbers attending clearly demonstrated this.”