Alexander Davidson Patterson (Barney) OBE FIEE, GI3KYP, RSGB Past President, 10th October 2018

| October 10, 2018
'Barney' Alexander Davidson Patterson OBE FIEE, GI3KYP, RSGB Past President

‘Barney’ Alexander Davidson Patterson OBE FIEE, GI3KYP, RSGB Past President, seen here in in his 1967 official RSGB portrait

Barney Patterson, GI3KYP / EI4BC died on October 10, 2018, peacefully, at home, surrounded by his family. He was the loving husband of Anne, beloved father of Alec, Janet, Hilary and Claire, and devoted Grandfather to all his grandchildren.

He was a native of Delgany, Co Wicklow, and a long-time Belfast resident. A skilled and patient mentor to many newly-licensed amateurs in the 1960s and 70s, he  was RSGB President in 1967 and IRTS President in 1971-1972 – the only person to have been president of both societies.

Funeral Service Monday 15 October at 1pm in Roselawn Crematorium. Family flowers only. Donations, if desired, to NI Kidney Patients Association, c/o Kirkwoods Funeral Directors, 150A Kings Road, Belfast BT5 7EJ.

This is only the briefest of notices, uploaded hours after Barney passed away. Unfortunately the news came too late to be included in the November edition of RadCom. A fuller tribute is in preparation and will be published later. If you have any memories, stories, reminiscences or photos of Barney, uniquely a past President of the RSGB and IRTS, please send details to


Jim Evans, G3VDB / GI3VDB writes:

How would you react if you opened your front door on a Saturday afternoon to find two 13-year-old school boys asking if they could see your station? In this day and age, I suspect many would probably not react very positively. In the Northern Ireland of early 1962, that’s how I came to meet Barney Patterson, GI3KYP, his wife, Anne, and young family. I was welcomed in and given work to do. Over several years, I was to discover that that welcome was typical, for the stream of visitors to their home in East Belfast.

This cheeky approach was not my idea. My new school-friend, who had introduced me to the Belfast YMCA Radio Club (GI6YM), had thought it would be an excellent idea to tour the local amateurs and see what their stations looked like! Barney’s was our second call; the first gave us short shrift. We never made a third, for not only did Barney welcome us in, he offered us pocket money for turning his recent tree felling into firewood. This task lasted many weeks and ensured we became regular visitors, immersed in the hive of amateur radio activity that was the Patterson kitchen.

For over five years, until we left for University, our Saturdays were spent at Barney’s. If Barney was on an errand, or visiting other amateurs, we tagged along in the Transit van. A key activity in Belfast and environs was 4m AM, mobile and static using surplus Pye Reporters and Rangers, whips and halos. These, I believe, were largely acquired, ‘crystalled up’, aligned and distributed by GI3KYP. Our Transit van trips were accompanied by continuous radio chatter – technical, social and humour, that southern Irish humour from Barney’s upbringing. Back at base, a Pye Reporter was mounted on the kitchen wall, so Anne always knew our mobile progress.

One long trip – 45 miles was a long trip in 1962 NI – was to a location in the Mourne Mountains within a few miles of the border with Eire to undertake what I was told was the first 70cm QSO between EI and GI. To someone working with WWII surplus equipment, limited to 15MHz, 430MHz was extremely esoteric.

When I acquired my licence in 1966 I acquired one of those Reporters, ready to go. I have no recollection paying for it; it was possibly surplus to requirements, offered on permanent loan. It was never returned and what happened to it is lost in the mists of time and house moves.

It would be some years before I understood the prodigious drive and energy that Barney put into his activities. He was a driving force within the Belfast RSGB Group (details of which passed me by as I did not join the RSGB until I left school and then Belfast). We had regular trips to the Ulster Flying Club where Barney was involved with all things electronic – rebuilding a Link Trainer, a pneumatic and electromechanical wonder used for ground-based training in instrument flying, a radio training and RT Pilots’ Examination aid which Barney designed and built, based on two small reel-to-reel tape recorders. All these activities were ancillary to his progress to the most senior positions in Short Brothers, Belfast’s renowned aircraft and missile designer, manufacturer of SeaCat, TigerCat and the shoulder-launched Blowpipe, and to his role as father of four children, whom it was our privilege for a few years to watch grow up.

I left Belfast in 1967, never to return for other than the family occasions, happy and sad, that life inevitably throws up. So my knowledge of GI3KYP since has been limited to that provided by the same school friend who kept in touch. It was he who advised me of Barney’s recent decline and of his passing on 10th October.

Our American colleagues use the term ‘Elmer’. This side of the pond we prefer ‘Mentor’, if we speak of it at all. A D Patterson was my childhood mentor. In a lifetime of engineering, electronics, computing and Amateur Radio (since my return to the hobby in 2007), the little I have added is directly attributable to the enthusiasm that Barney Patterson engendered in me on those Saturdays in the 1960s.

Tribute by Jim Evans, G3VDB / GI3VDB, Cheshire


Category: Silent Keys