Our Amateur Radio Society

22 December 2017 10:00

-.-. .- .-.. .-.. .. -. --. / .- .-.. .-.. / -... .-.. .. -. -.. / ...- . - . .-. .- -. ... Morse code for "Calling all blind veterans"

Our Amateur Radio Society meet regularly at our Brighton and Llandudno centres.  They learn how to operate the systems and create networks with support from long standing members of the Society. It’s a great opportunity to make new friends and learn new skills alongside other blind veterans.

The current chairman of the Society is blind veteran Ray, 72, from Abbeydale, who lost his sight and incurred other serious injuries, in a bomb blast. It was 1973 and he was serving with the Army in Northern Ireland. 

In 1978 a friend, who was ex-Royal Signals and had worked at Bletchley Park, introduced Ray to amateur radio. Ray studied for his Licence, learned Morse code and went on to teach.

Ray explains: “The Amateur Radio Society was formed in 1976 by Ted John, a blind veteran who lived at the Brighton centre”. Ted has since gone “silent key” which is how radio hams refer to former members who have passed away.

Ray is shown on the right

The first formal meeting of what was then St Dunstan’s Amateur Radio Society (with the call sign G3STD for St Dunstan’s), was in January 1976. Ted John was the convenor and he said the purpose was to draw up the Articles of Association, elect officers and ”properly launch the Society”.

At the Society’s next meeting in May 1976, with 21 members attending, it was reported that their call sign had been answered by two radio hams in Australia, one originally from Brighton and the other from Saltdean near Brighton – a small world indeed!

The Society currently has 50 members and they get together three times a year.  Ray says they “fly the flag for Blind Veterans UK by transmitting all over the world”. The Society members “talk” every weekday on their dedicated radio frequency (with the call sign MX0SBV – for Society of Blind Veterans).

Each year the G3MOW Memorial Trophy (named after the call sign of a founding member) is awarded to a member of the society. The Society operates from “Radio Shacks” and in Llandudno they have help maintaining their equipment from the North Wales Radio Club, who share use of the Radio Shack and maintain the equipment. As Ray says: “scratching each other’s backs” and Ray was delighted to present the award to Alistair and Gron, for all their help in keeping the Society operating and on air. 

Ray also thanked John and Rob for taking care of the radio equipment in the Brighton Radio Shack. Our charity’s founder, Sir Arthur Pearson, was particularly proud of the part he played in drafting and piloting a Bill through Parliament allowing for every blind person to have a radio, without the need for a licence.

Anyone interested in joining the Society can contact Chairman Ray through the charity.