Chapter 8 - A Time of Growth (1980-1986)
By 1984 many members had acquired home computers and had begun to use them in conjunction with their radio equipment for such applications as morse decoders, RTTY terminals, QRA locators and QSL card index systems. The most popular machines were the BBC B, Sinclair ZX81 and the Commodore 64. Other machines in use were the Sinclair Spectrum and the Tandy TRS80.
One of the most popular activities in these years were the visits to the National Air Traffic Control Centre at West Drayton arranged by Alison Wilson in the 1982/83 session. Each visit by a small group of members included an introductory film followed by a tour around the buildings. We saw the civil and military control rooms, where the method of operation was explained to us in great technical detail. After being shown the emergency room we were then taken through what seemed like miles of racks of computer equipment. First, the main computer room housing the machines and where the processing of information takes place. After that the radar and communications room where the various operators on duty deal with the incoming and outgoing aircraft movements which are shown on large screens. Each individual aircraft can be followed down to about 300 feet of the runways at Heathrow. It was fascinating and instructive and each visit was greatly enjoyed by all.
It would now be appropriate to pay tribute to two of our most active members who regrettably became "silent keys" in this period. Firstly the veteran "Uncle Vic", Bill Corsham G2UV, well known for his pioneering work in the early days of "Short waves" back in the 1920s. He was also reputed to be the original inventor of the QSL card for formal acknowledgment of contacts over the air. We are immensely indebted to "Uncle Vic" as he was generous enough to remember the Club in his will and made a bequest to be used by the Committee for the benefit of the Club at their discretion. It was decided to hold a yearly competition in his memory, the prizes for the winners to be provided by the annual interest on the capital sum. The first two contests took the form of a quiz and the next two were in the form of a talk challenge where members were asked to give a short talk on a previously chosen subject.
Another veteran who passed on in 1985 was Leslie Light G3KDL a stalwart helper of the Radio Amateur Invalid and Blind Club. He was conspicuous owing to his height at most of the mobile rallies the length and breadth of the country. Nowhere was too far for him to travel after he retired from his lifetime job as a librarian. He was also a regular visitor to France, The Netherlands and Belgium to attend radio exhibitions.
There were a couple of events to finish off 1986. In October we mounted a publicity display in the Gayton Road library in Harrow which showed some aspects of Amateur Radio in general and the activities of the Club in particular. Then there was the Annual Dinner which has now become firmly established as a regular event.
The Dinner celebrated the Club's 40th Anniversary and was held in Bella's Bistro at the Master Brewer Motel, Hillingdon on 16th October 1986. About 50 members and friends were present and had an enjoyable evening. Music during the meal was provided by the resident electronic organist. At the end of the main meal the Chairman, Chris Barron G4JNZ, welcomed everyone and explained briefly why 1986 was cause for special celebration. He also conveyed apologies from the 1986 President, Ivan James G5IJ, for his absence due to a recent operation. Following the Chairman, a cake with candles was ceremoniously brought in and a small piece was served to every guest.