Sunday I took part in my first RAYNET event at the Walk for Parkinson's at Burghley House in Lincolnshire. This was a sponsored walk to raise money for Parkinson's UK a research and support charity working to help find a cure and improve life for those affected by Parkinson’s disease.
Starting at the Burghley House stately home, participants could chose to do either a gentle 3 mile stroll within the grounds or a more challenging 10-mile walk out of the park and through the Barnack Hills and Holes National Nature Reserve.
RAYNET's task was to provide communication support to the organisers with operators situated around the course at various marshalling points to pass messages and if necessary request assistance.
Earlier in the year there was a presentation about the work of RAYNET at the South Kesteven ARS by Jim Wheeldon (M0JHW) and Alan Clarke (M0NLR) after which I'd offered my services for future events, so when Jim called me and asked for some help I was happy to oblige.
My task was quite straightforward, simply manning one of the marshal points along the course directing the walkers and making sure they were happy and injury free, if not I was to call for assistance. Despite being under the weather for the last few days with a bad head cold and a painful sore throat I still turned out and really enjoyed helping.
It was nice to use my radio licence and equipment for something useful, spending a pleasant morning in the sunshine talking to the walkers and some local residents explaining all about amateur radio.
RAYNET was formed back in the 1950s following the East Coast floods to provide a way of organising the valuable resource that Amateur Radio is able to provide to the community. While it is called the Radio Amateurs’ Emergency Network the majority of its work nowadays is to provide support to community events, like the sponsored walk.
However it can still be called up to offer assistance at incidents such as the recent Shoreham Airshow plane crash. The South Sussex RAYNET group, assisted by members of South Kent RAYNET, were already providing communications support for the organisers and the user
services at the airshow when the Hawker Hunter aircraft crashed into vehicles on the A27 during a flying display.
It was reported that following the crash the area was in lock down in four hours and it the demand on the local mobile networks by concerned spectators, residents and residents outstripped capacity making normal communication difficult. RAYNET operators were able to provide much needed support in the aftermath.