The first announcements about this month’s ME Awareness Week from 10th to 16th May will crackle out over the airwaves from a radio transmitter in the Scottish Lowlands today.
Behind the venture is newly qualified radio operator George Crawford, who is hoping the atmospheric conditions will be good enough for the announcements to be heard round Britain and maybe the world.
George, the partner of Borders ME Group committee member Michelle Craig, spent all his spare time since the first national lockdown last March studying to obtain his licence to become an amateur radio operator.
Full-time carer for his mother Liz who has Alzheimer’s, 48-year-old George will be using his one-off event call sign GB0ME (Golf Bravo Zero Mike Echo) to call out to other amateur radio operators – also known as radio hams – to answer his calls, record them in their logbooks and be entered in the dedicated online log for this event.
He will be operating from his home radio shack in Chirnside to pass on supportive information and facts to the global amateur radio community – using scripts and graphics supplied by the ME Association.
George, a former mechanical engineering project manager who now has the fainting condition Vasovagal Syncope and osteoarthritis, said:
“I want to start on 1st May as a gentle ramp up to the main event from 10th-16th May, for any stragglers to get this special call sign in their logbooks the need to make contact by midnight 16th May.
“I truly hope this will serve to promote the ongoing fight to find a cure for M.E, and more effective ways to manage the condition.”
He says Michelle, who lives separately in the nearby town of Coldstream, is fully behind the promotion.
The furthest he’s ever picked up signals was from Australia one day last year when he was behind the pier at Berwick-on-Tweed.
“I was using two 8-metre telescopic fishing rods and 20 metres of washing line as my antennae and eventually picked up this Australian call sign. But I was so low-powered, using just a 10-watt transmitter, that I couldn’t return the call.”
This month, he so much wants it to be different.
He has a weekly, Sunday midday slot broadcasting local and national news on GB2RS, the Radio Society of Great Britain’s news service, covering the Scottish Borders and North Northumberland on 145.525MHz FM for anyone who has a radio capable of receiving this frequency.
Michelle has been my rock over the last year and I have seen her hit the low points of M.E. really hard. I have supported her as well as Covid-19 would allow and she was rapidly welcomed to the support bubble. This special event station is my way of doing something to highlight her plight and that of ALL who live the daily battle with M.E.George Crawford, speaking about his partner Michelle who has M.E.