The Origins of CARA
For many years after WW2 Cheltenham and the surrounding area was well served by two amateur radio clubs: the Cheltenham Amateur Radio Society (CARS) and the Cheltenham Group of the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB). CARS was based at the St Marks Community Centre where it had the permanent use of a room which housed the club station G5BK. The RSGB Group met, in its latter years at least, in the Old Bakery (long since demolished) in Chester Walk behind the main library in the town centre.
Both clubs had a long and successful history but by the mid-1970s falling membership and the cancellation of events through lack of support were causing both clubs some difficulty. These problems provoked the comment “What is wrong with Cheltenham?” to appear in the June 1977 issue of the newsletter of the RSGB Group. In response, in the August issue, Frank Harris (then G8MFK, later G4IEY) suggested as a possible solution more cooperation between the two clubs and more joint activities. Following much discussion within and between the two clubs it was decided that the two organisations should amalgamate and so in November 1977, at a meeting chaired by Colin G3VTS, the Cheltenham Amateur Radio Association (CARA) came into being.
The first edition of CARA News appeared in December 1977 edited and produced, it appears, by Garth Martin G3IER and Derek Lively G3KII. The first AGM of the new club was held in January 1978, at the Old Bakery, when the following were elected to run the club for the following 12 months: Chairman – Colin Walker G3VTS; Secretary – Gerry Gearing G3JJG; Treasurer – Tony Jay G8JAY; ordinary committee members – Terry Russell G3JFH, John Moxey G3MOE, Tim Upstone G4DPT, Richard Marshall G4ERP. The annual subscription was set at £2.
Notable events during CARA’s first year included a formal dinner at the Savoy Hotel (the one in Cheltenham not London!), a family picnic in the Forest of Dean, participation in several HF and VHF contests, a barbeque, and a TVI self-help group under the leadership of Terry Adams G4CHD. All this took place in addition to two regular, well attended, monthly meetings. At the end of 1978 the membership stood at 67: G2AGX, G2DUG, G2FWA, G2HDU, G3AKZ, G3AUU, G3BCC, G3BGK, G3BZR, G3CEG, G3CJ, G3DCE, G3IER, G3JFH, G3JJG, G3JPP, G3KII, G3LGF, G3LME, G3LP, G3LRM, G3MOE, G3NKS, G3RPQ, G3RQS, G3SNN, G3VTS, G3XMR, G3XTP, G3XYL, G3ZKN, G4AOU, G4AQR, G4BBR, G4BEZ, G4BLP, G4BRW, G4BRX, G4BYB, G4BZU, G4CHD, G4CRN, G4CWM, G4DPT, G4EDA, G4ERP, G4EXR, G5HB, G6QM, G8GKH, G8IWB, G8JAY, G8JXS, G8KG, G8KUQ, G8LQT (later G4INC), G8LZP (later G4INL), G8MFK (later G4IEY), G8MGD, G8ML, G8MZV (later G4ILI), G8NUG, G8PMH, SWLs M Cypher, A Gandi, G Hope, G Slack.
Derek – G3NKS