Thursday, 19 April 2018

GB0BYL - and how supporting charity might be more meaningful than 'Emcomms'

In late April 1986, I was listening to MW commercial radio from Germany at home.  It was advising people in Germany to close their windows and remain indoors for a couple of days.  There had been some kind of accident in Ukraine.

A day or so later, I was out fishing for trout at my local lake on a fairly warm but very wet day.

Later that day, I learned about the true scale of what had happened.  It was, of course, the Chernobyl catastrophe.

Whilst it's over 1000 miles away from Wales, the winds on that week conspired to flow eastward.  Together with very heavy rain, this weather pattern caused a considerable amount of radioactive fallout from Chernobyl to be deposited on North Wales, especially the high ground of Snowdonia.

This was more than a technological catastrophe.  Countless people died and many more suffered terrible health effects - and continue to do so.


Controls on the movement and sale of sheep in the more seriously affected areas of North Wales were not removed until 2012 - 26 years after the disaster.

So this was a big event of the time.  I always remember it and the grey, rainy day where I was being soaked with radioactive rain as I fished by the lake.



This year, I applied for GB0BYL as a SES call to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the catastrophe.  As I wrote the QRZ.com page, I thought it would be a good idea to link the callsign on QRZ.com to a charity that helps the children of Chernobyl, who continue to suffer terrible diseases linked to the radiation loading from the accident.

I also came to think that amateur radio is always repeating its claim to be very useful in disaster relief.  It's very much an US-centric thing that doesn't really find much application elsewhere.  Many of think it's an exaggeration, others a falsehood, that ham radio has any significant role to play in such work.

But I also came to realise that supporting worthwhile causes through raising the profile of charities via amateur radio is something we can meaningfully do, even if the increase in support and donations might only be modest.

So, why not do one good thing today and support the UN-accredited Chernobyl Children International?  You can read about how Wales has a direct link to helping Chernobyl children in this BBC article.

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