Amateur radio gains significant boost in UK by connecting people during lockdown

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05/12/2020

A recent BBC news function describes how amateur radio got a significant boost in connecting people during the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown. The article, by Vanessa Pearce, quotes the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) – the IARU member society in the UK – as saying that many former hams are now returning to the hobby. Mark Rider, G3VHJ – a retired engineer who lives alone in North Warwickshire – said after the lockdown limited his occasional trips to the pub, rehearsing with musician friends and visiting his wife in a care home , he decided to dust off his amateur radio. equipment “to seek another social interaction”. Rider said ragchewing became one of the highlights of his day. “Just talking to someone else in the same situation is very rewarding,” he said. The 67-year-old told BBC News that keeping in touch with others has become more important since his wife suffered a stroke.

RSGB chief executive Steve Thomas, M1ACB, said the company has seen a threefold increase in licensing review requests since social distancing rules were put in place. The UK has around 75,000 amateur licensees.

Anne-Marie Rowland, 2E0RUX, 11, from Cornwall, has worked with the Cornish Amateur Radio Club to run informal networks twice a week to help people stay in touch. “We have regulars, but also new people joining us,” she told the BBC. His father, Bill, M0NXF, runs a network that has attracted older radio amateurs who are self-isolating, to help them feel connected.

The RSGB recently instituted its “Get on the Air to Care” (#GOTA2C) campaign in conjunction with the National Health Service and its amateur station GB1NHS to promote the use of amateur radio during the pandemic lockdown. Some stations have added /NHS to their call signs to support the effort, which aims to support the emotional health and well-being of the amateur radio community.

The RSGB introduced remote administration of the Foundation Class Amateur Radio Examinations in mid-April. Pete Sipple, M0PSX, told BBC News he had seen a “massive” increase in demand for training courses and exam sessions and had to increase the number of course offerings.


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