It is with a profound sense of grief that I must pass on the news of the passing of a friend and fellow ham, Stephen Thompson 8P6CV.
Stephen was a student of the St. Michael’s School and a member of the Scout Troop of that school. That is how we met when he was a student there, and I was helping with the running of the troop.
Stephen confirmed that an early exposure to this hobby of ham radio will result in sustained interest. I remember the activity at 8P6BBS, the Barbados Boy Scout Station, when several times Stephen would be the only Scout who would turn up for Jamboree On The Air and other activities.
That early interest resulted in Stephen’s firm commitment to amateur radio. He was licensed as 8P6CV in 1992 at the age of 16 - one of the youngest in recent years. Stephen immediately set about stamping his enthusiasm for life on his ham radio activities. He delved into amateur radio contesting, and for several years was the only 8P who was QRV for many of the major international contests.
I owe my re-birth in this hobby to Stephen’s enthusiasm. I had only just returned from St. Lucia and for several reasons was quite cold on ham radio. Stephen would have none of it. Several calls and VHF QSOs later he had achieved his objective and I was again active in the hobby.
One of the things which both of us always wanted to do was operate as a multi-single entry either from the ARSB club or from 8P9Z. We reckoned that together we could have achieved a very good score in a major contest. Last year we had planned to do this for the IARU contest and for the European DX Contest. For IARU Stephen chose instead to be QRV from home QTH so he could also be QRV on six metres, to pass out multipliers in the CQ VHF contest! Wow, working two events in the same weekend. By coincidence, the dates for the European contest fell on the same date as Stephen’s flight back to England.
Stephen completed a first degree in Physics at the UWI - Cave Hill and after a stint at the Barbados Light & Power company at the Spring Garden Depot Stephen was off to the University of Plymouth (England) to pursue a Higher National Diploma in electronic communication systems. Confirmation that radio and telecommunications were in his blood.
Stephen joined the Ham Radio Club at the University and still found time for contests. In fact he operated from the shack of a friend of his GŘIVZ in the 1998 CQ WW SSB contest. He placed first in England and second in the UK in that contest with a score of 1.72 million points from 1987 contacts, 103 zone and 337 country multipliers.
I remember working Stephen during the contest and afterwards he sent an e-mailed photo of himself at the controls of the station. I was jealous. For months afterwards, he spoke of operating from that station - running stacked force-12 tribanders and a full 1500W from an Alpha 87A, plus Beverages for the low bands! That was one of his best ham radio experiences. In that contest his closest rival in England was M8X who scored 0.96 million points. Such was his competitive nature that this ham from Barbados could travel to England and place first in that contest.
Even though he was one of the best of contesters. He always wanted to do better: to more fully understand the propagation, to build a new gadget for computer-control, and always after every contest we’d exchange logs. He always wanted to see if there were any band openings or stations he missed. He wanted to evaluate any tactical errors he may have made; to analyse them and to mitigate against them in the next year’s contest. Always reading on new tactics and strategies - that was 8P6CV.
He also had the opportunity in England to attend RSGB conventions, where he had an opportunity to expand his knowledge on DX and six-metre operations and to meet the legends of the DX community. One of his favourite ham radio books was ‘Where Shall we go next?’ by Martti Laine OH2BH who has probably activated more new DXCC countries than anyone else.
Stephen was a great ambassador - if you worked an 8P, you’ve probably worked 8P6CV who in his short stint in ham radio probably worked more stations and made more friends around the world than the average ham in Barbados or the Caribbean will, in an entire lifetime.
I will always remember Stephen for the fellowship we shared through our passion for contesting. For the mutual respect which we shared for each other - always competing against each other yes, but always sharing. Sharing strategy, new information, interesting experiences, whatever - so that next time each of us would have improved our scores by drawing on the other’s experience. In recent times this had been limited to e-mail since he was overseas.
On the weekend of his accident, Stephen and I had set up a sked to exchange notes in a similar fashion after the IARU contest. Stephen uncharacteristically never showed.
From this great young man taken perhaps even before his prime, I think we must learn three important things:
The importance of a competitive yet compassionate attitude to life and a belief in self. A belief that says that you can succeed, but not without help along the way.
The importance of never putting off those things which you can do today until another day. For only God above can truly know where we will be and in what state we will be to face the future.
The importance of being spiritually ready for the future. Whatever that future is.
These are the three lessons which I have learnt from someone who was like a brother. A true friend - Stephen Thompson, 8P6CV SK SK.
May he forever rest in peace.
News of Stephen’s death has come as a great shock to those of us who met him at the UKSMG meetings at Sandown Park. Clive, G4FVP writes:
The news about Stephen becoming a SK at the age of 24 is truly appalling. I met him a couple of times and his enthusiasm for six-metres was very evident, he had made plans including improving his station and building a six-metre beacon. At a personal level you didn’t need to know him well, to know that he was a really decent guy.
Before I sign, you might forgive me for one recollection. When I last met Stephen, he gave me his blank QSL after I said that I still needed 8P. He reckoned that we would work one day, and that I could then fill it in and save the postage. Well we will never work, and I missed 8P the other week despite hearing it. If I ever make it, I’ll remember Stephen and the QSO that might have been.
Very sadly. Clive, G4FVP
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