Eddystone User Group

Graeme Wormald G3GGL SK

Graeme Wormald, G3GGL and former administrator and editor of the Eddystone User Group and its newsletter, passed away after a long illness on the 3rd January 2015. He leaves his wife, Eda, and their five children, Jane, Julie, Andrew, Kate and David, G3JQE (his grandfather’s callsign). His funeral service was held on 23rd January at St Anne’s Church and was attended by his family and very many friends and work colleagues and various local civic and political dignitaries reflecting his many years of public service to the town and its societies.

Graeme first got involved with the EUG in 1994 when he attended the RSGB rally at the Birmingham NEC and found out his ticket also gave him admission to the nearby and concurrent National Vintage Communications Fair. Graeme was, by that time a keen collector and restorer of vintage radios, so a free visit to the NCVF was not something to be ignored. During his tour around the show he discovered the Eddystone User Group stand and being the proud owner of an Eddystone 680X he decided to join the group there and then. About a year later, when the Eddystone factory was in the process of moving from its West Heath factory to a newer one at Selly Oak, Graeme volunteered his efforts and expertise to take over the administration and printing of the EUG newsletter from volunteers at the factory under the guidance of Eddystone’s Managing Director, Chris Pettitt G0EYO.

Chris, knowing that they could not continue to support the user group after their factory move, quickly took up Graeme’s offer of help by being the focal point of the EUG and the QTH for all communications with members. As time went by, Graeme took on more and more of the running of the EUG until Chris left the company in 1998 and the company was sold by Marconi to Megahertz Communications in 1999. From then on Graeme was the sole administrator and Newsletter Editor of EUG until 2006 after which, at the age of 75, felt it was time to “retire” from what had by then turned out by then to be  a full time task.  His enthusiasm and determination kept the Eddystone User Group going through some very difficult times and not only that, produced  quality newsletter every two months and Quick Reference Guide to Eddystone sets, which have themselves become seminal works on the marquee.

Graeme was born in Middleton, near Manchester  on the 17th October 1931 to parents, Alec and Annie Wormald who came from Rothwell, south of Leeds. Graeme’s father was an industrial chemist who worked for ICI and took a keen interest in early radio technology including building his own sets.  Graeme’s grandfather Walter had been a young morse telegraphist with the General Post Office in the late 19th century. Graeme was an only child and a love of making and flying model aircraft ignited a passion for all things aircraft from the age of 9 onwards which no doubt accounts for his later decision to do his National Service in the RAF. Graeme won a place at Manchester Grammar School, however academic brilliance was not part of his early make up much to the disappointment of his father. He eventually took his School Certificate Examination MGS in 1946 which he failed. However a house move by the family to Leeds saw Graeme transfer to Leeds Grammar School (LGS) where he enrolled into the Junior Training Corps which was the successor to the Officer Training Corps (OTC). Graeme’s interest in amateur radio had been encouraged by his father who around this time took his RAE and Graeme knew that he wanted to do his National Service in the RAF as a Radio Operator.  The JTC also gave Graeme the chance to become familiar with firearms and he turned out to be fair shot. Graeme scraped through his School Certificate at LGS but he shone in the JTC signals section and became a corporal radio operator having passed his morse test.  Graeme struggled with his Higher School certificate and just managed to squeeze passes in Physics and Art.

At home Graeme and his father continued to develop their joint interests in amateur radio using government surplus equipment. Graeme took his RAE in 1949 and continued his involvement in the JTC which now became the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) becoming the senior NCO in the radio section.  His enthusiasm for all thing aircraft also enabled him to get their schools CCF to have an RAF section. His CCF training sessions at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire allowed him to experience his first aeroplane flight and learn the principles of navigation. Eventually LGS became associated with Leeds University Air Squadron with regular visits to RAF Church Fenton. In 1949 Graeme passed his RAE examination and the subsequent morse test. As Graeme was under 21 his licence had to be issued in the name of his father.

When Graeme was 18 his National Service call up came and he asked to be allowed to join as RAF aircrew. Although National Servicemen were not normally allowed to be aircrew, the Korean War in 1950 made the Government realise that they had allowed their aircrew numbers to run down, they decided to increase their numbers through conscription. In 1951 Graeme found himself at RAF Dalcross in Scotland learning to fly. At the same time the Post Office inspector had visited Graeme’s home QTH and pronounced him fit to be allowed to use “phone “, the compulsory 12 months CW only period after taking the exam having expired.  Because he was stationed 350 miles from his home QTH, Graeme built his first portable CW/Phone transmitter based on an 807 valve for 80m which he could use at RAF Dalcross on his next home leave. This was used with a BC454 Command Receiver. Graeme was lucky enough to come across miles of old wiring and conduit at Dalcross enough to make an 80m dipole and Graeme made his first phone QSO’s as GM3GGL. During his National Service Graeme got his commission and was put in charge of a five ton, 14,000 horsepower twin engine jet fighter  with four 20mm cannon, yet being under 21 he still needed his father to be the official holder of his amateur licence.

In 1952 after National Service, Graeme got  a job as a transmitter engineer with BBC at Skelton in Cumbria. In 1954 he applied for a job at the BBC’s training centre at Wood Norton, near Evesham where he met his future wife Eda at the BBC Social Club and they married in 1956. Commercial television started in 1954 and many engineers, attracted by the higher salaries and benefits offered by the ITV companies left the BBC to join them. Sometime in the late 50s or early 60s, Graeme  went to work for ATV/ABC in the Midlands, who held the weekday and weekend ITV franchises. Eventually they became Central TV in 1982. Graeme retired aged 60 in 1992.
Outside of work Graeme had many other interests, apart from being the father to five children. Now living in Bewdley   Worcestershire, he, along with Eda , became involved in local politics and civic affairs. Eda was a councillor and Mayor of Bewdley from 1971-72 and Graeme was Mayor from 1975 to 1977. He was also a member and on the Executive Committee of Bewdley Civic Society for many years and was a member of Wyre Forest District Council, representing the town for a number of years from 1979.
Graeme also had a strong sense of fun, for one Bewdley Carnival he made a quarter size model of a WW1 German Tri-plane and entered the procession dressed as the Red Baron. He was also fond of WW2 re-enactment being the proud owner of a restored Wilys Jeep that he used to take to the 1940s events at the Severn Valley Railway dressed in the full uniform of an American Army Colonel.
His radio interests continued through his membership of the RSGB, where he was  a continuous member for 67 years, VMARS, BVWS and of course the EUG. He held regular skeds with his friends and often ran the EUG net on 80m on a Sunday morning. He wrote many articles for radio magazines and was a good home “brewer”.

Graeme made a huge impression on all who met him. He was a kind and generous man who would help anyone who needed it. He served his family, his hobby and his community well. He will be sorely missed. RIP old friend.

Note 1     Graeme had thoughtfully written an account of his early life for his family and much of the information up until his National Service years comes from that account
Note 2    Graeme wrote an article for PW in February 2001 on his life as a National Serviceman, between 1950 and 1952.