The very special world of radio amateurs

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In the face of the internet, mobiles and instant messaging, you might expect the hobby of amateur radio – or ham radio as it is also known – to be on the decline.

But over the past three years, the number of amateur radio licenses has increased by more than 8,000 – with 80,000 currently issued in the UK.

Using designated frequencies, amateur radio enthusiasts communicate with people all over the world. Many prefer the relaxed approach of ‘rag chewing’ or long chats with people, who often become friends – while at the opposite end of the spectrum, ‘competitors’ compete to make as many contacts as possible over the course of a given period.

The hobby is also a public service, with Raynet (in the UK) responding to emergencies when regular communication networks fail. Amateur radio enthusiasts are currently contributing to relief efforts following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

BBC News has joined the Chorley and District Amateur Radio Society as they held a special “Castles and Stately Homes On The Air (CASHOTA)” event at Astley Hall, a Grade I listed house in Lancashire. The club wants to break the traditional stereotypes of radio amateurs and offers free training to its members who range from 8 to 80 years old.

Video Journalist: Neil Meads

Stop/Start is a series of video reports for the BBC News website that follows both new trends beginning and old traditions coming to an end.

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