Dorking & District Radio Society

70th Anniversary Celebration Lunch

29th April 2017

The Society celebrated its seventieth year in style with a buffet lunch at Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking. There was a display of radio equipment "down the ages", examples of current members' projects, and a slide show of past club activities.

We welcomed Nick Henwood, G3RWF (President of the Radio Society of Great Britain) and Simon Ling (Vice-Chairman of Mole Valley District Council) as honoured guests. Over 50 people attended this very enjoyable occasion. There was even a specially made anniversary cake, ceremonially cut by the youngest member.

Chairman's Address - John Kelly, G3YGG

Those of you who are good at arithmetic - or "sums" as we used to say - will have worked out that, as DDRS is celebrating its 70th Anniversary, it must have been formed as a club in 1947, a year which only a few of us here today can remember. 1947 was only 2 years after the end of the Second World War, when austerity (real austerity) was common place; rationing of food and fuel remained in force; and to make matters worse the 1946/47 winter was the coldest for many years. For months the country lay frozen beneath a sea of snow and ice, and when the thaw finally arrived in March the resultant flooding caused further distress.

The Spring of 1947 is also remembered by Radio Amateurs for one other event. A great Sun Spot - 42 times the size of planet Earth - crossed the face of the Sun; and indeed in 1947, 663 Sun Spot groups were recorded, a figure breaking all known records. Solar Cycle 18 was an excellent one, and Radio conditions on the HF Bands were exciting. Propagation worldwide was not the struggle it is today as the air waves then were devoid of the pollution we Hams now suffer from electronic noise generated by cell phones, computers, power supplies, solar panels and the like.

In the April of 1947, 4 recently licenced Radio Amateurs and a few other persons came together in Dorking to form our Club, which met initially in a derelict house on London Road, although it was soon decided that it would be more "convenient" to meet in a pub. I counted 11 such venues in Robin Greenwood's recollections which he shared with us at our 60th celebrations 10 years ago. Sadly in the last ten years he and others of our early membership have died, and no founder member is here today, but John Tett, now in his 80's and living in Chippenham sends his greetings and told me of the difficulties he, as a 14 year old, had with his mother in getting permission to attend those early meetings held in such sinful places.

In February 1950 the Club became a member of the Radio Society of Great Britain and holds two Call Signs: G3CZU and G7DOR.

DDRS has never been a large club, but it has always been a friendly and an active one, and many of the events which soon became part of its life in those early days are perpetuated in what we do today.

Monthly meetings were, and are still held with speakers from our own and neighbouring clubs, and we always welcome their members and are glad to see them. We appreciate the support today of other club members and trust that they are enjoying themselves. In recent times we have had speakers from as far afield as Cyprus and even the Falkland Islands.

Most of our members are licenced operators, operating on HF and VHF, using voice, morse, and the more recently developed digital modes. But we welcome Short Wave Listeners too, of course, and anyone with an interest in electronics or computer sciences.

In the early days an on-air Net used to be held on Top Band every Sunday, but for many years now this Net has been on 80 meters, 3772 KHz, at 8:15am clock time, and has been a means of keeping in touch with those of our members who have moved away to other parts of the UK and Europe.

The club has always made good use of its special location in the Surrey Hills, and participation in Field Days - VHF and HF - has been a regular part of our activities. These days, whilst not competitive, we go out portable on Leith Hill, and each September we participate in National Heritage Day at Polesden Lacey, the National Trust Property, with HF and VHF stations and displays. Each July we make a trip to Devil's Dyke on the South Downs, where again we enjoy portable experiments and of course, a meal in the pub afterwards.

For several years we have taken part in Jamboree on the Air in October, running a station for 7th Epsom Scouts in their Radio Shack, which room they have recently very kindly made available for to us to use every Thursday afternoon and evening. But monthly speakers' meetings are now no longer held in a pub, rather in the more appropriate sounding location of the Society of Friends, the Quakers, in Dorking. We are grateful to them for the use of their facilities.

The Club has an extensive amount of its own radio equipment, which can be borrowed by members, and this is very helpful to new-comers to the hobby, especially young people who find the cost of modern day "Black Boxes" prohibitive. But construction of homemade rigs and antennas has not been forgotten, and only last Tuesday we had a talk by one of our members on his experiences in building a magnetic loop antenna for 40 meters. In January Foundation class Licencees made 300 milliwatt Pixie transceivers as part of their practical work towards the higher graded Intermediate Licence.

Foundation Level and Intermediate Level Class Training is an important feature of our Club, and it is instructive to note that of our membership of 25, 11 have joined us through the training programme, which to date has a 100% success rate. Our youngest trainee is 10 years old, and an XYL of one of our members has recently decided that "if you can't beat them, you should join them". A successful trainee who came to us at age 12, is now aged 18 and in the course of sitting his entrance exams for Cambridge University, in the hope of being offered a course in Computer Sciences.

Our Club has this year donated two large masts to assist with the siting of new Repeaters near Horsham.

In Dorking town itself, the Club has often participated in civic events, such as the 75th Anniversary of the Opening of the Dorking Halls, and the parade in 2002 to celebrate the 50th year of the Queen's reign. The Club too has been associated with the work of the Emergency Services and has a part to play in the event of any natural disaster.

Amateur Radio is a hobby for all - and indeed is more than a hobby - and it has not gone out of existence, as is sometimes thought. It is in fact an activity which encompasses many aspects of life generally, and it is one which encourages and creates friendships and understanding all over the world, something which planet Earth seems to be very much in need of, as the years pass. In that, the Dorking and District Radio Society is proud to continue to play its part.