Chairman’s report 2016

Last year I wrote that 2015 was a fantastic year for the Hilderstone amateur radio and electronics club, having won regional club of the year for the second time. This year we have won regional club of the year again and achieved second place in the national large club category.

So what adjective fits 2016?

The keys to success have been keen supportive club members and a strong hardworking team on the committee. Much to my relief we now have a tremendous club secretary and a scrupulous treasurer.

As last year we have had the usual special event stations starting with the SOS Radio Week at the Margate Lifeboat Station, raising money for the RNLI with sponsorship from London Array. The local Brownie groups earned their communications badge on the Thinking Day on the Air, we celebrated Mills on the Air at the White Mill in Sandwich and Museums on the Air at the Manston Spitfire Museum. Unfortunately the North Foreland Lighthouse event had to be cancelled due to strong winds. We took part in International Air Ambulance week and G15YOTA at Wellesley House school where we also put on a variety of activities for the pupils and Brownies.

We’ve held two buildathons, one with club members and one with local pupils making a radio which counts towards the Intermediate licence.

We have had talks on a 3D printer, the Tim Peake contact given by two young pupils and two demonstrations on digital modes. We’ve also learnt how General Relativity is relevant to amateur radio.

The training has been most successful with Peter Petersen and two lads, Ethan and Benny from Wellesley House, gaining their Foundation licence as well as Phil who went on to get his Intermediate licence with Morgan, Patrick and Steve. Congratulations also to Nick Parker for achieving his full licence.

So more of the same in 2016 but more importantly this year we had over 400 people listening in to an amateur radio contact. The lead up to the magic ten minutes had been a roller coaster ride. Ten schools were chosen nationally to have the opportunity to speak to Tim Peake but our contact wasn’t definite until a few days before. We were ready - we had guided Ethan and Benny through their Foundation licence and prepared twelve local primary schools by getting them to track the FUNcube satellite so they could appreciate why the contact was so short. It was heart stopping to be able to see Tim on the ham TV but not hear him. Eventually all was well and the children asked their questions. One lad was very upset as contact was lost just as it was his turn. However he was able to ask Tim his question in person at the Portsmouth Space conference.

The contact was in April - what has happened since?

Schools are still enquiring about the FUNcube satellite as Space is in the National Curriculum. We have started two after school clubs, one at Wellesley House school and one at River Primary school. They are doing a mixture of Electronics, Amateur Radio and Space.

My thanks go to Mrs Sabin-Dawson for organising the event at Wellesley and to ARISS for setting up the equipment to contact Tim, GB1SS. Also many thanks to all the club members who have helped to make 2016 another very successful year. We may have our ups and downs but we come together to make amateur radio a fun hobby.