A North Wales guest house owner and amateur radio enthusiast doubles as a vital communications link in the UK’s regional disaster response team.
In the event of a major man-made or natural disaster knocking out electrical supply and taking with it the landline and mobile phone systems David Morgan and fellow radio hams are ready to leap into action to provide a back-up communications network.
David and his wife, Sandy, have run The Northwood Guest House, on Rhos Road, Rhos on Sea, with its nine bedrooms for the past 20 years and combine looking after their guests with their hobbies – amateur radio and photography for David and line and circle dancing for Sandy.
The 75-year-old from Rhos on Sea keeps much of his sophisticated radio equipment in three 40-foot storage units on Lock Stock Self Storage’s giant Llandudno Junction storage park just off the A55.
He is part of a team of 30 radio hams from across North Wales who are tasked with keeping a vital back-up communications system up and running should disaster strike.
David, a former serviceman in the Life Guards Regiment, part of the Household Cavalry, has just been presented with a bottle of bubbly and a £200 thank-you from Lock Stock for his 20 years as a loyal customer.
He said: “The units have been ideal for us for storing spare furniture and various things for the guest house because we like to change things round from time to time but they’re also important for keeping our radio equipment dry, safe and secure.
“I’ve been a member of RAYNET – the Radio Amateurs’ Emergency Network – for many years and we would step in to help provide communications for the North Wales region in the event of a major disaster knocking out communications.
“Our role would be to provide a communications network for the Councils’ Emergency Planning Officer and the Emergency Services for disaster control. I’m the RAYNET co-ordinator and have 30 operators across the region who can help.
“We could set up wherever we were needed – I can operate from my van – and the storage unit at Lock Stock in Llandudno Junction is ideal for our needs, it’s secure and I have 24/7 access there.
“But we don’t just provide a service in the event of disaster. We provide radio cover for very many events in difficult outdoor places where there is rarely any signal for mobile phones.
“We’re there for events like the Snowdon Marathon, we’ve covered the Round Anglesey cycle race and other cross-country races for mountain bikers and runners – I was at the Old Horseshoe Pass, near Llangollen, last autumn for the National Hill Climb Cycling Championships with members of the Meirion RAYNET group.”
Lock Stock’s North West Wales Area Site Manager Lee Hanson said: “We like to show our appreciation for loyal customers like David who has been with us for 20 years and is one of our longest-serving renters.
“The radio equipment he has is amazing and he and his amateur radio colleagues clearly provide a very valuable service – let’s just hope they’re not needed for anything other than sporting events.
“Our units are really versatile though so they make ideal storage options, especially for someone like David who could need them at any time of the day or night because they have 24/7 access, they’re weatherproof and are on properly surfaced, serviced and secure sites.
“We offer flexible terms which appeal to businesses like David and house movers. There is no minimum period and no notice needed when the unit is finished with so customers only pay for the days they have used.”
Lock Stock units come in 40-foot, 20-foot and 10-foot lengths, are eight feet high and wide, are painted the company’s uniform dark green and have been trucked onto the site by lorry with Lock Stock using computer-aided design to ensure the layout permits easy access to all the units.
Lock Stock, founded in Denbigh in 1999, is the UK’s largest containerised storage company with almost 4,500 units providing over four million cubic feet of space at storage parks across North and Mid Wales, the border counties and Merseyside.
Their existing sites stretch from Holyhead and along the North Wales coast at Porthmadog, Caernarfon, Bangor, Llandudno, Abergele and Rhyl, on the Dee at Flint, Saltney and Deeside and inland at Denbigh, Mold, Buckley, Wrexham and Newtown in Powys, and in England at Oswestry and Shrewsbury in Shropshire and now in Huyton in Liverpool.
The company estimate that 60 per cent of their containers are rented by people moving house or keeping treasured possessions but up to 40 per cent, almost 2,000 of their containers are used by small businesses for storing equipment and materials.
Lee Hanson added: “Businesses, especially small businesses use our sites because they have storage needs and with three different sizes of units they’re ideal whether people are looking to grow or to downsize.
“We respond to demand and where it is coming from and if it is from an area where we need more capacity then we look at opening somewhere new or extending our existing premises.”