Silent Key – John Ridd G8BQX

Obituary from the Vital Spark magazine, February 2011.

John Ridd was one of the  founder members of the current H.E.R.C. club, in fact he was a member of the previous Hastings club in the 1950’s, during the 1960’s John obtained his amateur licence, and in his early days he was a very keen operator on the 2 metre band, reports from his friends and colleagues recollect that he operated a Pye P.M.R. base station which required various crystals in the 8 MHz  range for operation, but John built is own  V.F.O. on 8 MHz, which was reputed to be “bomb proof ” and it weight was approaching 100 lbs and it was probably to quote one of John’s expressions “soldier proof ”  he was also reputed to have a P.S.U. which was built on the same lines and was also extremely heavy.

The next development in 2 metre technology was a “Liner 2 “ of which John operated before this current club was formed, I can remember listening to John on the local 2 metre evening net in the early 70’s, which was then gaining popularity, John was also into contests on 2 metres of which in his early days he was quite successful, in the early 80’s when I joined the club it was decided to go in for 2 metre contests on a larger scale, John organized them as a military operation with operators doing two hour stints, over the 24 hr contest period, the club helped with his efforts by providing him with a rotator fitted with four 21 element Yagis, I then provided a mobile crane and fitted the aerial array mounted on a stub mast to the jib head of the crane, this was then erected to a height of 80 feet, I also provided a  10Kw 240v generator to power all the stations operating on the site,   although he was very successful in gaining many contacts from Great Britain and Europe,  with the points system in operation we were at a geographical disadvantage over contest stations which operated from more advantageous sites.

When the 6 metre band was allocated to amateurs John went over to that band, of which he was keenly interested and currently operated quite actively, in 2007 the R.S.G.B. awards recorded John as having 130 confirmed countries worked, also 625 squares confirmed.

When John left school at sixteen he took up employment with the G.P.O. (General Post Office) Telephone department, and was involved in exchange construction, and I gather that he operated from the old Baldslow exchange which is situated at the top of Harrow Lane, this was separate from Hastings and had automatic dialing long before the Hastings exchange, he then moved on to the investigation and interference department, of which he persued with great vigour, especially the then currently illegal (late 70’s early 80’s) operations of C.B. on 27MHz AM, he had many stories on these activities, he was gaining evidence for transmitting on this mode up at the picnic site at Fairlight, and he required to obtain the vehicle registration number in the dark, so he crawled up to the vehicle and felt the embossed numbers on the registration plate, on another occasion he heard a C.B’r asking for assistance as he had run out of petrol out in the country, John responded to his plight, and he was talked in to the stranded motorist, but John never gave him petrol, he was only interested in gaining evidence for a prosecution on illegal transmitting !

On another occasion a C.B.’r (his story) was operating from an orchard out in the country and he was aware of a mini constantly travelling up and down the road, so he looked over the hedge and saw this mini being driven by a large character that occupied practically the front seats of the car, he decided that discretion was the better part of valour and promptly departed into the woods, John was of a large build and usually had small cars.

Apparently Johns superiors were getting fed up with his success, which was making them a lot of work with prosecutions, so he was then moved on to fibre optic telephone cable installation and testing until his retirement.

John done his 2 years National Service (compulsory military service in the armed forces from W.W. II up till the 60’s) during the mid 50’s in the R.A.F. on leaving he then changed sides and enrolled with the Territorial Army, he took this very keenly, and was much involved in the communication field, after his retirement from British Telecom, he was keen on travel to Eastern European countries, of which he engaged on regularly, and unfortunately it was on one of these trips where he had a fall and fractured his hip/thigh, he was brought back to England, he caught an infection and spent several months in the Conquest Hospital, he did not recover from this, and passed away on January 4th 2011 aged 76 years. A sad end for one of the clubs very active radio amateurs.

Farewell John, rest in peace.   Ron Deeprose G4VBK.


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