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Two pre-teens are youngest to pass Technician Class amateur radio test

Two pre-teens are youngest to pass Technician Class amateur radio test
LEFT TO RIGHT: Jhawanie Laidlow (10 years) and Ciandra Scarborough (9 years), the youngest radio amateurs in SVG.

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Nine-year-old Ciandra Scarborough and 10-year-old Jhawanie Laidlow created history in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) by being the youngest persons to pass the Technician Class amateur (HAM) radio test; they were among 13 other persons who completed a one week course organized by the Rainbow Radio League Inc. and part sponsored by the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC).

The course of studies which was conducted at the headquarters of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), covered several areas including radio wave propagation, antenna theory and construction, amateur radio protocol and frequency allocations for radio amateurs among other topics. Also included in the training was a mini simulation involving emergency message handling.

According to course director Donald De Riggs, Amateur Radio is both a hobby and a service, but his emphasis was on the service aspect as we need radio operators from communities all around SVG, to enable response agencies to respond in a timely and effective manner whenever there is a disaster. He emphasized that as a service “we don’t see politics, we don’t see religion, all we see is needs, and address those needs, irrespective of religious or political affiliation” and that the main pre-qualification for this course is “simply the ability to read, write and understand”.

De Riggs went on to thank NEMO for the use of their conference facility which also serves as the main Emergency Operations Center (EOC), the NTRC who graciously provided refreshment for the participants and printed the course material, the caterers who did a fantastic job, the students who paid attention, asked questions and who all acquired the 80% pass mark to gain a Technician Class amateur radio license.

In recognition of the service provided by radio amateurs during natural disasters, the government allows licensed operators to import communications equipment duty free, while the NTRC only requires that new Hams pay an initial registration fee of EC$50. Thereafter, all that is required is annual renewal of their license, by filling out the renewal form.

The Technician Class course is conducted free of cost as the RRL’s contribution to national development, which has historically been supported by the NTRC, Red Cross, BOSVG, SVGPA, RSVGPF and NEMO. Throughout the week active radio amateurs visited the training center to give moral support to the trainees. The course ran from November 18 – 22, 2019.

In 2020, the RRL Inc. will be celebrating 25 years of service to SVG and the wider Caribbean region. (Report submitted by: Donald De Riggs)