2023 SOTA epilogue

For M0JKS 2023 could not have begun better; well the first few days. 2022 had seen the wireless microwave company I worked for and help setup sold and then asset stripped. I jumped ship just before it shut down, joining a RF company in Cambridge. As a radio amateur it was a dream job, what could possibly go wrong…

Starting date was January 3rd, and I had to spend just a week in the office. The rest of the time I could work remotely with the odd trip down south when required. The week went smoothly and I spent the week collecting lots of nice RF gadgets, and setting up a new Linux workstation for doing FPGA simulations and builds. On the Friday evening I bid farewell to my new colleagues and headed back home to my QTH in the Peak District.

Sadly just seven days into the new year, this is where 2023 came crashing down for my family and I. I don’t want to go into details, but our world fell apart the next morning. A tragedy I thought could never possibly occur happened to someone I love dearly. Sadly that tragedy was compounded by yet another just 3 months later, something someone so young and vunerable should never have to go through.

After many weeks of despair, the likes of which I have never experienced before, in an attempt to break free from the black dog, my wife suggested I collected together some radio equipment and hauled my sorry ass up the nearest SOTA summit. It was a bright February day and I sat there for what seemed like hours, just listening to radio chatter, glad my mind was occupied by something else. It was there that I set myself a task, something that would allow me to get away from things and disappear into the world of radio. I set myself the task of activating as many different summits as I could, and bagging as many S2S contacts in the process. This would be my therapy.

Weather permitting this is what I have done for the last 10 months; albeit with a 7 week break while I had titanium pins inserted in my right foot to correct crippling arthritis. With just my faithful KX2, my 10/15/20/40m switchable inverted-V antenna and my little KX2 microphone clone, in 10 months the SOTA database tells me I climbed 68 summits (more than any previous year), managed 1272 S2S contacts resulting in 6249 S2S points and 288 activator points. I’m also fitter, mentally stronger and have a brand new right foot (well not quite, it just doesn’t hurt as much as it did).

I’m writing this on the last day of 2023, a year I have to say I will be glad to see the back of. Although after 11 months we have almost come to terms with what happened that night in January, the ramifications will drag on into 2024; but hopefully no further. As 2023 is about to become the past, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all; all my fellow radio and SOTA enthusiasts for helping me through 2023. Hearing familiar voices and callsigns of fellow activators like you Martin, Peter, Ben, Shane, Robert, Simon, Roger, Tom, Vicki, Ian, Esther and Frazer (to name just a few)’and the army of chasers out there has been truly cathartic . Despair is a narcotic, it lulls the mind into indifference; for me playing radio (as my wife likes to call it) has been the therapy that has kept me going. So thank you all. You didn’t know it at the time, but to me every contact was worth so much more than points in a database.

Just Keep Smiling



[quote=“M0JKS, post:1, topic:34144”]
playing radio (as my wife likes to call it) has been the therapy that has kept me going.
It’s never easy to share such tough memories and emotions and these, Dave, but well done for doing so. It might be little consolation for you to know that you are not alone in wondering why you have had to go through such traumatic despair, but you will never lack support from those SOTA friends and others who empathise and sympathise and also believe that SOTA summits offer some of the best mind-clearing remedies available.
I hope 2024 is a positive and happy time for you and that you are able to get back out on to the hills regularly again. I hope to as well, especially armed now with one of your excellent mini microphones for use with my KX2. Would be great to have a S2S one day with you while using it. :+1:
Sending every good wish to you and yours.
73 Mike


Dave, well done, my friend for what you have achieved in 2023. I know from my own experience, just what you have been going through. so I will not dwell on that. My best wishes go to You and Your Family . Happy New Year to You All. I hope to speak with you again soon. 73 de Paul M0CQE.

1 Like


Sorry to read about the difficult times you and your family had to endure during 2023.
Let’s hope 2024 bring health and greater happiness to you and those dear to you.


1 Like

Hi Dave,

I work mostly CW but anyway we managed to complete a few S2S (SP9MA, SP15SOTA) during this year.
I am very happy to be small part of your important therapy.

I wish you only good impressions for year 2024 and next ones :exclamation:

73, Jarek

1 Like

Thank you Dave for having the courage to write this. You are partly able to do that because you are part of a supportive community (that likes to take the micky when ever possible) that feeds off one another. There’s nothing quite like Team SOTA.

For you, 2023 can go in the :wastebasket:and 2024 will be a :rocket: of a year.

All the Best for the coming lap round the sun. :tumbler_glass:

Nailed it.


My heart sunk after reading your third paragraph Dave - I’m really sorry to hear you and your family went through a real bad time early this year. It’s not easy sharing any tragedies, but you have done so in the correct group! Doing SOTA and speaking to your friends on a weekly basis is a great thing, everyone is so kind, understanding and supportive.

2023 is now around the corner, bring on 2024 and I wish you and your family peace and happiness!

I look forward to making many QSO’s and S2S contacts with you in the future, maybe even a joint activation when your next in GW and you want to try your new foot out.

As Fraser said - you hit the nail on the head there good and proper!

73, Ben

PS - when I’m back in GW, I’ll be taking the new mic out - watch this space.


Afternoon Mike. Thanks for the kind reply, and thr comments on the microphone. I was hoping to get out today, as the weather is beautiful here in the Peak District, but I’ve started 2024 with COViD so it’ll have to wait until next weekend. Thanks again Mike.




Delighted to say it has been in action all morning with my KX2 working garden portable and has got 2024 off to a good start. Take care. Thanks again. Vy 73 Mike


Hi Paul,

Thanks for the kind words, and thank your for all the long QSOs in 2023 - there were a lot! FYI, one of my new year resolutions has been to remember your QTH - it’s Oldham not Bolton or Bury… As I mentioned to you on Boxing day (on GW/MW-013) I should know better as my wife is from East Lancashire. I had planned to be out today but I’ve got the lergy (COVID). Wx permitting, I should be out next weekend, as I now need just over 200 activators points to get the MG.

Wll the best for 2024 mate


1 Like

Thanks Robert,

I’m looking forward to activating in 2024, although my focus this year will be activator points rather than S2S. I need just over 200 for the MG. I’ve also never activated outside the UK yet so that itch needs scratching. I’m think EA8/TF.

Thanks again for all the contacts in 2023.




Hi Jerek,

I started doing CW in 2022, got to the point where I could probably have had a basic QSO. For me CW is not like riding a bike… I had very little practice in 2023 and it appears I have lost it again. I must do better in 2024.




Dave it is always a great pleasure to have a QSO with You. Things will get better for You and Your Family as time goes on you learn how to live with, but never forget that which has happened in the past. You are doing the correct things. All Your SOTA friends, (and you have many), will I’m sure be happy to help. Many Thanks Dave for being an example to us all. God Bless You and Your Family. Happy New Year to You All. 73 de Paul M0CQE.

Afternoon Frazer,

Thank you taking the time to reply, especially on new years eve. We’ve had many QSOs over last few years, some of which have been very long distance on 2m - more than 300km as I recall. It’s quite amusing when we have a QSO and some weeks later you put up a video on YouTube. It always makes me think - do I really sound like that ?



1 Like

Prynhawn Da Ben

Thanks for taking the time to reply; and for all the QSOs (and S2S points) in 2023. I think you, Peter (MW0PJE) and Robert (M0RWX) are my top three contacts - both from home and from a summit.

I’m thoroughly looking forward to 2024 (the playing radio bit) and would already have 5 activator points in the bag for G/SP-004 if COVID hadn’t struck two days ago. Hopefully I’ll be clean by next weekend - wx permitting.

I only have 206 activator points to go to.get the MG, once that’s in the bag I’ll be venturing more into your neck of the woods - GW/MW land. I’m also very lucky in that my old Venture scout group (from 35 years ago) own a outdoor centre in North Wales (in Port Penrhyn Bangor), and as an alumni I can use it whenever it’s not being used for scout groups.


l’ll therefore be in GW/NW land a lot next year if you want to do a joint activation. Once the foot is completely healed, one that I would like to do is Tryfan across to Eldir Fawr in one go - doing the Glyders and Y Garn on the way. I also want to do something special for the MG - maybe EA8/TF-001 - probably around September.

Anyway, thanks again for everything and in particular for offering to test out the microphone. I think 7 SOTA people have them now, some you know very well.



1 Like

That’s good to hear Mike. I’ve spent the morning - COVID isolation on the orders of the yxl - making a few more

If the weather is ok next Saturday I’ll be out on a summit. Would be great to have a QSO on 40m…




Through all of this you have brought joy and happiness to others every time that you picked up your microphone. I can’t be alone in smiling whenever I hear JKS, Just Keep Smiling. Your callsign is one of the fewer that Liz instantly recognises and always produces a big smile.

I am sorry to hear of the pain that you have been through in 2023, and hope that 2024 brings all that you wish for.

73 my friend,
Kevin, MW0KXN


Writing this after my first activations of 2024. I meant to comment on your post before, but I found myself coming back to your quote several times today! You totally hit the nail on the head. A day spent outdoors working lots of familiar callsigns, plus some new ones almost always leaves me in a better headspace.

I’m sorry that 2023 was a tough year for you, and I do hope that things will improve during 2024.

73, and many thanks for your post,

Matthew M0JSB


Dave, having followed some of the Trials you have gone through in 2023, I think I can confidently say things can only get better! Some of our ‘Challenges’ have really bought out the best in both of us! Sitting on top of G/SP-004 with you for 8 hours was one of the highlights of the year for me. Especially having someone to help take down the water sodden tent! Here is to more crazy challenges for the next year!

If you could get out of bed a bit earlier, you might even be able to match my VK S2Ss… now there is a challenge for you! Did I tell you about the time I got China!

Have a great 2024! I look forward to working you from the boat!

Martin (your number 2 mate).


Hi Dave, @M0JKS

I’m sorry to hear of your difficulties during 2023 - it’s gone now though, so let me (and Nic) wish you a much better 2024!

Radio certainly helped when I lost mum in 2020. Sodding Covid lockdowns meant it was hard to visit her before it happened, making it worse than it should have been. But after it happened, getting out & about definitely helped and I’m sure having access to amateur radio helped dad too (although I still haven’t managed to drag him up anything bigger than the SOTAs on the Isle of Wight - that’s a work in progress there…!).

Anyway, I hope you have better times ahead.
All the best,