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What is RAYNET?
Raynet is a generic name for a group of licensed Radio Amateurs who provide their time and expertise voluntarily to provide radio communications for emergencies and disasters etcetra . There are approxamatly 5000 members in 250 groups across the UK.Licensing regulations allow us to assist various organisations (user bodies) with communications for emergency or safety reasons. The list of user bodies includes the voluntary first aid organisations , local authorities,the Police,the Armed Forces,and various public utilities.Apart from regular training,we are restricted to operating on behalf of one of the stipulated user bodies.The regular training undertaken puts us in a position to respond rapidly in the event of an emergency and in most situations have a radio network up and running within 60 minutes of being called upon.
Apart from , thankfully, rare emergency situations we usualy find ourselves operating on safety grounds at events such as Marathons and sponsered walks. Normally this is on behalf of the Red Cross or St John Ambulance. We are finding that the Police are using us increasingly at carnivals and the like.These events give us opportunity to hone our communication skills.
RAYNET was formed on the initiative of the Radio Society of Great Britain" following the spontaneous help provided by Radio Amateurs Durring the 1953 east coast floods.The Amateur Radio licence required amending to allow the handling of emergency and disaster radio traffic for third parties.
Apart from the 1953 floods the worst disaster assistance we provided was the air crash over Lockerbie,where RAYNET provided communications for the authorities over a number of days.Locally we have been called upon several times to assist with lost person searches on Exmoor and similar areas.
Taunton and West Somerset RAYNET Group is associated to Somerset RAYNET Committee comprising of Group Controllers from all Groups within Somerset who elect annually a Committee Chairman who is the "County Chairman/Controller"
We cover an area from the Somerset and Devon border in the west to mid way between Bridgewater and Weston super Mare in North Somerset to the east. We have a thriving group with a large spread of age and experience. Our youngest members are in their teens while our oldest are in their eighties. We usually provide communications for typically twelve events per year. These events include overnight challenge walks across the Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park. Some of these events are night time orienteering events with up to 600 walkers covering up to 18 miles. Other events are Triathlons and Horse Riding normally off road and in the Hills surrounding Taunton Deane. Over the last 15 years the group have communications on events which have raised over £250K for local charities like the Children’s Hospice in North Devon. Taunton and West Somerset RAYNET Group have assembled an array of equipment for use on these events normally sponsored by donations received. Equipment like in band UHF mobile repeaters linked on 4m and 2m as well as digital communications.