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1957/8 saw the Police and St. John Ambulance added to the third party traffic permission listing.


1963 saw the award of the RAYNET Trophy to the Norfolk Group.

 

31 December 1978 brought a call out by North Norfolk Police for a requirement of a radio communications link between Sheringham Police Station & Salthouse, lost due to extremely adverse weather conditions, deep snow and a severe gale.

 

30 Nov 1980  Late during the Sunday morning AM net, Norfolk Rover Rescue, a group of 4-wheel drive vehicles informed RAYNET that they hoped to send a team to assist in the Earthquake Disaster in Italy, an area south of Naples. They asked that RAYNET provide operators for each of the six vehicles, and got ten volunteers! It was expected that the team would depart either Tuesday 2nd December or Wednesday the 3rd. Funding was expected from the Italian authorities, but this failed to materialise. But Rover Rescue needed to cover their fuel costs, so it was decided to try to obtain the estimated £2,800 ourselves. With the aid of the local Press, Radio and TV and the superb generosity of local people, firms, schools and organisations, plus the assistance of local radio amateurs who willingly collected donations, a total of £3,033 was collected by the Tuesday afternoon deadline. Departure was to be the following day. Additionally, four donated caravans, food & clothing for the disaster area were also collected. But paperwork for each of the twelve participants had to be obtained from the Italian Embassy in London, inoculations had to be given, various supplies for the team members collected, radio, antennas and other equipment installed in the vehicles, etc. all providing a mammoth task in a very limited period of time. Yet the party left Norwich in convoy as planned at 0630 on the 4th December to cross the German border by the end of that first day in freezing ice and snow conditions to arrive at Avelino, the earthquake stricken site on 7th December. The caravans and other essential supplies were successfully delivered to the devasted mountain village on the 9th December.   

 

This was the first overseas operation by any RAYNET Group. The HF facilities proved entirely successful and provided an invaluable link between the convoy & 'home', especially important when spares were required from the UK for one of the Land Rovers. The link was also used to arrange the return ferry and to keep the teams families informed of the well-being of those involved. The 2M inter-vehicle communications proved vital, as the parties were separated according to the duties needed of them. The International co-operation exhibited by European stations en route was exceptional, but the operation would have benefited far more from a fully trained established organisation capable of dealing with and assisting with any such operation. The team arrived back home at 1730 on the 13th December, all safe and sound, but very tired after a job so very well done.

 

13/14 Dec 1981  From 2017 to 0530 on the night of 14/15th December, at the request of the Police, twenty-six RAYNET members joined up with eleven Rover Rescue vehicles and drivers to provide aid and assistance to those impacted by sudden severe blizzard conditions. Forty people were rescued from stranded motor vehicles and two stranded ambulances. From 0800 - 1800 on the following day thirty-five members were involved with Rover Rescue assisting the Police, the County Highways Department and the County Emergency Planning Officer. They located a 'lost' ambulance, gave aid to people at Cantley, provided relief and vital supplies to a Children’s Home near Attleborough and performed extensive road conditions checking for the Highways Dept of Norfolk County Council. 

 

1983 saw eight talks and PR Displays provided involving 129 man-hours.  547 man-hours were expended on Exercises, 2,241 on event coverage and 546 on live call-outs for user Services, totalling 3,463 man-hours. 

 

1984 produced 33 events for Norfolk RAYNET, all coverage for our user services.

 

1985 11th August came about the Sheringham to Cromer Raft Race. The sudden and rapid worsening of the sea conditions necessitated the cancellation of the event soon after it had commenced. A threatened calamity was narrowly prevented when 400 rafters were collected and safely brought ashore. A superb combined operation involving the St. John Ambulance Brigade, the Police, Ambulance Service, HM Coast Guard, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, RAF Air Sea Rescue & RAYNET averted what could have been a disaster situation.

 

1986  36 events were covered, five exercises and a total of 3,800 man-hours expended by Norfolk RAYNET.

 

1987  From 11th to 17th January inclusive came the great snow emergency. A combined operation with Rover Rescue saw 6,000 plus man-hours expended by RAYNET members. All Norfolk RAYNET groups were involved countywide and altogether 177 amateur radio stations participated, including thirty non-RAYNET members. They passed traffic for the users which comprised of Norfolk Police, the Norfolk Ambulance Service, North Norfolk Highways, the Hospital Authority and Social Services, all under the auspices of Norfolk’s County Emergency Planning Officer. Operations took place on the first day in temperatures down to –10 C but with 20-knot winds producing a chill factor far below even this.


Over the next two days a 12” mean snow level resulted with a  –16 C chill factor, giving a realistic risk of frostbite. Many patients were picked up from snow bound areas for transportation to various hospitals in the County. Reports on impassable roads and blocked villages were passed to the authorities, assistance was given to the police in placing road closed and diversion signs and ambulances were assisted in locating and accessing affected people. Vital medical supplies were collected and transported, supplies of water, coal, food and heating were delivered to cut off housing, vitally needed fodder was carried for distressed animals, communications were supplied for hospitals with no telephone access, missing persons were located and even emergency lighting was provided for night time helicopter landing. By the following day 20” inches of snow had fallen, and the powerful overnight blizzards had produced major drifts blocking many county roads. Mundesley, Beccles, Elsing, North Walsham, Wighton, Reedham, Trunch, Hales, Harleston and Poringland were isolated, and even RAYNET with Rover Rescue initially failed to be able to get through to North Walsham to set up the emergency control centre at the town’s Police Station which, like others, had lost it’s telephone lines.


This operation was RAYNET’s biggest, most prolonged and most intensive event. It clearly demonstrated the vital role that radio amateurs could provide in dealing with, assisting in and providing for situations beyond the capabilities of overloaded public services.  In all 1987 saw 42 events covered, six exercises and five user services call-outs in which 12,000 plus man-hours were expended by RAYNET.


Thankfully, in the following years, no event came up to the level of that of the 1987 blizzard, but RAYNET continued to participate in a number of callouts, some of which involved communications between groups searching for lost persons. Regular exercises organised by the County Emergency Planning Officer simulating train and aircraft crashes, floods, chemical spills and similar practice disasters have kept the members on their toes. RAYNET also put on their own exercises to test availability and equipment function particularly concentrating on the low lying flood prone areas and coastal points from where effective and reliable links can be problematical. 


Over the past recent years, whilst no major disasters or highly serious emergencies have arisen, RAYNET’s participation with user services in many processions, carnivals, county shows, public gatherings, sponsored marine and inland sporting events, marathons, long distance charity walks, runs and cycle rides have provided good service to the public and will continue to do so.  


History Part 2

Pat Gowen G3IOR

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History Part 1