That was a great rally today, probably the best I have ever been to. This is both from the perspective of a punter, and an exhibitor.
The SOTA stand was bustling from one end of the two tables to the other from 10.30am right through to 4pm, often as much as four people deep. Jimmy M3EYP, me, Audrey and Rob G4RQJ were all shattered by the end of the day - but we saw that as a very positive thing indeed!
I am most grateful to Andy MM0FMF, Brian G4ZRP, Brian 2E0OYG and Jen M6MIJ who all put in a considerable amount of time staffing the SOTA stand. Being so busy for over five hours, this input was both necessary - and appreciated.
It was fantastic to meet up with SOTA friends like John G4YSS, Jack GM4COX, Jim G0CQK, Dave G3VUS, Gary G0HJQ, Kevin M0XLT, Chris 2E0XLG, Phil M0GIE, Phil G1OPV, Roy G0HDX, Roy G4SSH, Rick GW0VMW, Mike G4BLH, Keith G0OXV, Stuart G0MJG, Martin M0ZIF, Simon M1AVV and meet several leading activators for the first time - Iain M3WJZ, Phil G4OBK, Carolyn G6WRW, Helen M0YHB, Martyn M1MAJ, Caroline M3ZCB, Andrew M0LKB, Dave G6LKB. There were loads of others as well, and probably Jimmy will remember more than me, and Audrey who collected no less than 38 entries in the stand guestbook. It was great to meet young Clifford ahead of his big expeditions on G/LD-013 and G/LD-001 to raise money for the MS Society.
However, there must have been even more than that, for I sold nearly 90 raffle tickets in my fundraising for my Year 7 Enrichment students’ Foundation Licence examination fees. One lucky person will win the £280 Dyson Ball vacuum cleaner - I’ll announce the result after the winning ticket is drawn in house assembly in about three weeks time. Thank you for your generous support folks.
A lovely framed photo of Shirley MW0YLS was displayed at the raffle end of the stall, as it is of course Shirley’s shack equipment that is now used by the children on the radio enrichment course.
I finally succeeded (well, it was Keith G0OXV who did it really) in getting connected to the Wi-Fi facility at Norbreck, which meant that my laptop was displaying the live SOTA spots all day. This was used to go looking for Ian 2E0EDX on Red Screes G/LD-017, and later Richard G3CWI on Blencathra G/LD-008. The latter was great fun, as the stand was very busy at the time, and Richard was called by no less than 12 SOTA chasers using M1EYP’s rig and SOTA Beam on the SOTA stand.
He worked more rally-goers that were in and around Norbreck at the time, but the pile-up was surely inevitable - Richard is rare DX on 2m FM! Not as rare as Roy G4SSH though, and you could almost sense Richard’s state of shock when he was called by Roy on fone!
Rob and Audrey, as ever, supplied a fantastic array of activation photos and SOTA summit quizzes. Audrey brought two enormous boxes full of her legendary home-backed SOTA cakes, enjoyed by all through the day. It wouldn’t be SOTA without the EYPs’ flask of soup of course, and today Jimmy and I were sipping Spinnakers Lobster Thermadore soup for our lunch!
Thank you to everyone who came to visit the stand, and those who gave up time to staff it. But the greatest thanks must be reserved for Rob and Audrey were there by 9am setting everything up with Jimmy and I, and still there at 5pm taking everything down. Any SOTA stand would be a considerably lesser event without the much valued input and hard work of Audrey and Rob. And the cakes!
Jimmy and I got on the road just after 5pm, and chatted to various people on 2m FM as we made our way out of Blackpool. By the time we had hit the M6, I was in QSO with Jordan M3TMX, and discussing the intended activation of Billinge Hill G/SP-017 on the way home.
Jimmy directed me to the usual parking spot at the end of Beacon Road, on a bright and sunny Sunday evening. We walked up the path between the hedge and the wire fence, and around past the landfill site. Another tarmac path led to the steeper bank up to the summit.
There was a number of people enjoying the fine weather on the summit, as Jimmy and I touched the trig point. This was a very simple “no frills” activation on our 2m handheld and rubber ducks. Despite this, we each made plenty of contacts into Lancashire, Cheshire and North Wales. A nice one was Reg G3WPF, who like Roy G4SSH earlier in the day, is rarely worked on fone. It was difficult not to give into the habit of giving Reg a 599 report, despite speaking into a microphone!
Another pleasing contact was with Shane G6WBS/P on Fair Snape Fell G/SP-007, as it is rare to get a summit-to-summit after 6pm in the evening.
It was a very good day. My thanks to all who made it so.