The Founder of JOTA

Les Mitchell - G3BHK (1923-2014)

Little did I think when I drew up the plans and rules for the first event in 1958 that it's popularity would increase and spread around the world. Even more astonishing is the fact that after all this time it still holds it's popularity and now has a participation of some half a million Scouts and Guides in over one hundred countries involving some ten thousand amateur radio stations. In fact it has become the largest international Scout event ever.

Have I been aware of any significant changes in the event since it started? Possibly the most noticeable change to me has been that in 1958 so few members of the Scout Movement were qualified radio amateurs that we had to call on the help of local amateur radio clubs to organise and run stations taking part in JOTA. Over the years Scouts taking part in the event have become so interested in the hobby that they have become radio amateurs themselves and a significant number of JOTA operators today are members of the Movement. This of course makes participation in the event far more interesting for those at both ends of a contact.

There are two other significant changes which have vastly improved the event. One is the change from Amplitude Modulation (AM) to Single Side Band (SSB). This has led to more efficient signals enabling one to make contacts further afield using only the often simple temporary aerial arrays erected during JOTA.

The second improvement is the miniaturisation of the equipment. In 1958 a single station consisted of several large sized and heavy pieces of equipment, mostly home-constructed, which would fill a car boot and took a long time to install. Today one can carry a complete station in a small suitcase and assemble a station within a few minutes. It is only the aerial which still needs the same amount of installation time as it did in the past!

Finally, JOTA is great fun but there is one simple point you must remember - even the most efficient communication system in the world is useless if you have nothing to say. If you put nothing into the event you may get nothing out of it! JOTA is your chance to speak to Scouts and Guides over the horizon …. Silence makes no friends!

Good Radio Scouting contacts!

Les Mitchell, G3BHK
October 2000



Dear Fellow Radio Scouters

A small congregation of family , friends and four uniformed Scouters attended Les Mitchell's funeral at St. Peter's Parish Church, Rawdon near Leeds on Monday 20th Oct. 2014.

International Radio Scouting was represented by Richard Middelkoop PA3BAR 'World Scout Bureau Adviser' who had flown in from HB9S ,Geneva via Amsterdam. Barbara and I were there as it was through Les that we first met , plus as members of the GB2GP team and Brownsea Island Service Team.[Les had set up JOTA Stations at both sites in the early years]. The fourth Scouter ,Joy Smith ,was local and was there because her Scouter friend Sue Crossley,[Les's carer ] could not attend.At the request of Les's wife Eileen the Service Sheet had my photo of Les taken at the 40th JOTA , GB/HB9S, 79th Reading Scout Group HQ. on the front cover.

During the introduction to the service the Vicar commented how fitting it was that Les's Funeral was being held immediately following the 57th JOTA week end in which Scouts from all over the World participated.

The 'Tribute' to Les was read by a nephew and included many amusing references to Scouting and Radio . The second Hymn was The 'Boy Scout' Hymn, by Ralph Reader a copy of which had been found by his daughter Rosemary among her father's things.

Following the Service we were each able to spend time with Eileen and reminisce about old times and pass on condolences from those not able to attend. Although not so mobile she still has a very sharp mind and recalled in more detail incidents that we just remembered. Eileen and Rosemary were grateful and appreciative of our effort to attend. We learnt that Barbara and I were so lucky to visit Les at the end of June this summer as within a month he had had to be moved to a Care home.

Rosemary has promised to pass on anything she finds of interest to us when she goes though Les's 'heap' type filing system !!!.

A fellow founder member of the Baden Powell House, Scout Amateur Radio Club

Alan Willson G3WNS

A scan of the funeral service is linked to here.