A society with a proud history is set to celebrate its 70th anniversary next week.
The Shefford and District Amateur Radio Society (SADARS) was set up in 1948 by radio and radar military servicemen following their demobilisation after World War 2.
Organised by Claude Pettifar, early meetings were held in the Old Wharf Building by the River Flit in North Bridge Street but later moved to the more spacious Shefford Community Hall, Ampthill Road in Shefford.
The club is thought to be among the oldest leisure organisations in the Shefford area.
Every Thursday evening, talks, video presentations and demonstrations are given on subjects ranging from the historic spark transmitters to the latest developments in microwave communications. The design and construction of radio aerials for the back garden and DIY projects, including from the club’s own kits of parts kits, have always proved to be popular topics.
“Even in these days of instant public communications via satellite and the web, SADARS continues to train new Morse operators to ensure that members specialising in very long distance and reliable shortwave radio contacts by high speed telegraphy, are equipped to maximise their results.
Historically, the club membership has been privileged to include many eminent electronics engineers, including Ivan Howard who was a founder member of the British Amateur Television Club who it is thought gave the very first national ‘open to the public’ demonstration of Amateur TV at a club meeting as early as 1950. Clive Wallis, a prominent and especially active member, was awarded the G3AJJ Cup for services to Amateur Radio Satellites in 2001 by the British AMSAT organisation and the also the coveted Louis Varney Cup by the nation’s Radio Society of Great Britain as recently as 2013.
Outside speakers have always been warmly welcomed, including Prof. Colin Pillinger of space and satellite fame, Keith Skues the popular radio broadcaster and Jim Bacon the weather expert, BBC broadcaster and life-long radio amateur. The editors of the various popular ‘ham radio magazines’ down the years have been frequent guests of honour, as have leading specialists in the many technical aspects of the hobby.
In turn, organised outside visits by members have included trips to radio stations at BBC Rugby, Daventry, Sandy Heath, Brookmans Park and the nearby Baldock monitoring station.
Club members are most fortunate to have private access to local farming field areas for their annual outdoor operations involving activity in national and international radio communication contests, during which the SADARS special callsigns G3FJE and G3B are activated.
Ken Amos, chairman of SADARS, said: “Over the years here in Shefford, ourclub has fostered many a new licencee.
“We operate at a national competitive level in the world of amateur radio and our reputation as a warm and welcoming group is long established. It has been said that our hobby may be no longer attractive to the younger generation but, despite a reduction in membership over recent years, a factor affecting so many clubs, I see no diminution of enthusiasm and interest. Rather, our people remain keen to experiment with the very latest technology and its development and serious application to radio communications.”
‘A Brief History of SADARS’ by Brian Farey is due for publication in October at the planned celebration party next Thursday to which past and present members and wives are to be invited.
SADARS meet each Thursday at 7.30 for 8pm at the Community Hall in Ampthill Road, Shefford. For more information, see their web site www.sadars.co.uk.