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Brian Izzard

Chairman MVA

 Another year zooms by …
Last year I noted that it had been a year of political turmoil (or should I say ‘change’) in the UK but this year has been relatively calm apart from Grant Shapps having had five cabinet jobs in a year – hardly time for a welcome pack and a leaving do. At the other end of the scale, Veterans may well remember the famous five-year plans that many of us were subjected to – does anyone remember one that wasn’t completely out of date in six months? Thankfully, inflation seems to be on the way down and interest rates have peaked. However, I wonder how the political landscape will change by the end of 2024!

Sadly, we have ongoing wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, but this has also been the year of natural disasters. Earthquakes in Morocco, floods in Europe/Libya and wildfires across many parts of Europe and North America – many inevitably linked to climate change. I was particularly sad to hear of the fires in the Hawaiian island of Maui which I have visited on vacation a couple of times. There is a huge Banyan Tree in Lahaina which was originally planted in 1873 and has a foliage circumference of about 450 metres. It is a very popular tourist attraction and wedding backdrop. I well remember using it as a sunshade and it is not far from the beach where I made my one and only attempt at surfboarding – I did manage to get vertical once for about five seconds. Lahaina’s Front Street provided endless shopping, eating and night life and is steeped in history. Both the street and the tree have been wiped out, but I read that the tree is already showing signs of recovery.

On a recent cruise I was looking forward to visiting Signal Hill in St. Johns Newfoundland where Marconi is reported to have received the first transatlantic wireless signal (the letter ‘S’ in Morse code) in 1901 using an antenna suspended 500 feet by kite. Marconi returned to the site in 1920 to test ‘long-range’ audio transmission and succeeded in reaching the ship SS Victorian over 1200 miles away in the Atlantic. It is surely mind blowing to realise how far we have come in the past 100 years as I sit down to watch a live sporting event on the other side of the world in high-definition colour television. Sadly, the St. John’s port of call was cancelled for ‘operational reasons’ whatever that means – probably the port fees were too high.

However, I did manage to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax Nova Scotia which has a permanent display devoted to the Titanic disaster on April 15, 1912. Perhaps the most poignant artefact was a pair of leather children’s shoes from a 19-month-old British fair-haired toddler, originally referred to as the Unknown Child, Body No. 4. Later DNA testing resulted in the child being positively identified as Sydney Leslie Goodwin with his headstone being upgraded in the nearby Fairview cemetery after a proper funeral.
The Museum also included a radio room where members of the public could try out their Morse skills and it is also a HAM radio station VA1MMA where someone was busy making radio contacts. Of particular interest was a Marconi Canada CSR 5A/CM11A HF Transceiver (pictured) which the staff believed was still in working order.

Marconi Canada CSR 5A/CM11A HF Transceiver

Radio Room Halifax Museum

Radio Room at Halifax Museum


Reunion News ...
Judging by comments from your Committee and Veterans, the 2023 Reunion went well and attendance from Veterans and Associates increased slightly from the previous year. Getting to Pontlands proved to be a challenge since the council decided to resurface the approach road that morning and apparently did not notify the venue or anybody else for that matter. What did we do before SatNavs! Your secretary has apologised for his lack of planning and foresight and has assured me it won’t happen again ….

I felt that the quality of the meal and service provided was very good and we have duly booked Pontlands for our 2024 Reunion which will be held on Saturday 20 April. The usual invitation will be mailed to all our current members in addition to full details being posted on our website. For those of you who have not attended recently, Pontlands Park Hotel is located close to the former Marconi Research Laboratories in Great Baddow.

The theme for the 2024 Reunion will be Radar orientated and I am pleased to welcome Alan Matthews as our President for 2024. Alan started his Marconi career in 1952 as a Student Apprentice which is the same route as I followed albeit some 8 years later.

Our guest speaker will be Dave Lowry who had considerable experience with the S600 Air Defence Radar and saw service in the Falklands.

Our 2024 coaster will also have a Radar theme.

And Finally ...
My predecessor Peter Turrall (and our Patron) continues to be involved in Marconi events and he recently joined one of our regular Management Committee meetings and provided some thoughts about increasing MVA membership levels.
Once again, I must thank Leonardo UK for assistance with our newsletter printing and postage costs. This ongoing support is invaluable and very much appreciated.
I could not fulfil my role without the support of the Management Committee and particularly Colin for all his hard work as Secretary and to Mark for his diligence in keeping our website up to date.
See you all at our next Reunion on 20 April 2024.