Gorleston man's radio passion lasts a lifetime
PUBLISHED: 16:22 04 March 2011
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011
THERE was a whirr and a crackle, but soon a crisp voice rang out across the commonwealth territories: "To men and women so cut off by the snows, the desert or the sea, that only voices out of the air can reach them…"
Among the millions straining to catch King George V’s first Christmas Broadcast, made in 1932, a six-year-old listened in from his home in Great Yarmouth.
And for David Buddery, now 88, it was one of the first instances of a love for amateur radio that has lasted to this very day.
Having first been introduced to the airwaves at a young age, David is now among the longest-standing affiliates of the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) with a membership that so far spans 73 years.
He said: “I think I always had an ear for important experiments, which that was, and as an amateur radio broadcaster it’s great to have memories of the first royal broadcast.”
From that time David could regularly be found with his father Harold, a science teacher, using their ingenuity to put together all-mains radios to listen in to broadcasts from across the world.
And as a teenager David fondly recalls first joining the Great Yarmouth Amateur Radio Club, where he and fellow enthusiasts would bring in what they had built and see how far their efforts would take them.
He would often go to a radio junk shop owned by the father of his friend Peter Harrison, with whom he still keeps contact, and they would set about improvising ways to fix disused parts long broken.
“There were about 10 of us and we used to meet once a month in the packing floor of a disused fish house in Market,” said David or G30EP, his call sign on the airwaves.
“I remember a banker used to come along and he had a short wave receiver that we all envied worth £3.7s.6p (£3.37p), and if the conditions were right we could get through to America, which would be considered an achievement.”
Having joined the RSGB as member number 2999, he carried his hobby into his dentistry course at Sheffield University, helping set up an amateur radio society there and ruffling a few feathers in the process.
He explained: “I’d spoken at the first meeting and my professor told me he’d had a complaint from the physics professor who wasn’t very pleased. This was because he didn’t think a student from another faculty should speak on the subject which by rights belonged to the physics department!”
Above and beyond the petty-squabbling of department politics, he also put his skills to use for Queen and country in the Home Guard during the second world war.
Given a role within the 12th Nottinghamshire (Bassetlaw), it meant had worst come to worst he would have had to co-ordinating radio communications for the group in the defence of Worksop.
David then went on set up a dentistry practice, marry his late wife Joyceline, and continue to build up an impressive array of receivers with which he still tinkers and uses to speak to fellow enthusiasts in countries as diverse as China and New Zealand from the comfort of his Gorleston home.
“I prefer to use Morse because it’s a bit more private, even though it took me about 20 years before I could pass the Morse test – there’s no easy way to learn, you just have to practise and practise and practise.”
He is also chairman of the Gorleston Amateur Radio Society, with whose members he transmits from his summer house when the weather is accommodating.
And though admitting he is losing some of the younger generations to more instantly appealing technology like the internet, some of David’s fondest moments of recent years come from teaching both young and old the secrets of the wireless.
It is also something he cannot imagine stopping anytime soon.
He said: “You make something and then think – wait, I can make this better. I’ve spent 10 hours soldering together a lower power transmitter, and I will keep on doing this until they put me in a box,” he added, with a wry grin.