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Worldwide doyen of Amateur Radio honoured

Date : 17 / 06 / 2014
Author : Jim Linton - VK3PC

On a trip to Melbourne Timothy Ellam VE6SH/G4HUA, IARU President of the International Amateur Radio Union, formally presented Dr David Wardlaw with the IARU’s inaugural Michael J Owen Award. The presentation was at the Wireless Institute of Australia’s (WIA) headquarters in Havelock Road, east suburban Bayswater before a small gathering of those involved with the IARU, WIA, family and friends.

Tim Ellam thanked those who organised the morning tea, (followed by a city luncheon later joined by Nan Owen and daughter Jen), and said, "The WIA remains one of our most important member societies in the IARU and we value your participation in our affairs." He acknowledged the presence of IARU Region 3's President Gopal Madhavan VU2GMN, and Director Geoff Atkinson VK3TL as well as Monitoring System Coordinator Peter Young VK3MV, and the Chairman of the Disaster Communications Committee Jim Linton VK3PC.

Speaking of the Michael J Owen Award, Tim said, "We were of course immensely saddened with Michael’s sudden passing. (The IARU Region 3 Chairman and WIA President died on September 22, 2012.) Michael was a rock for all us and for his achievements both with Amateur Radio in Australia and those who became involved in the IARU were remarkable. His commitment to Amateur Radio was exemplary. Many of us here today can speak to his keen intellect and wit. Many also speak to his kindness and mentoring of new radio amateurs involved in the IARU.”

Tim said one of his goals on becoming the IARU President was to recognise our volunteers. This was from a recognition that people spent long hours for the good of Amateur Radio, often with little recognition. "With Michael’s passing it seemed fitting that this recognition should incorporate his name," he said. The IARU Administrative Council (AC) felt that no other radio amateur better exemplified the IARU volunteer, and named it the Michael J Owen Award.

In 2013 the IARU AC acted to make the inaugural appointment of two radio amateurs who were the unanimous choices for dedication and work for the IARU. Wojciech Nietyksza SP5FM (who was presented with the award by IARU Vice President Ole Garpestad, LA2RR in Warsaw on 17 May 2014, for decades of exceptional service) and now Dr David Wardlaw VK3ADW receiving the same award. The Australian became involved with the IARU in 1968 as part of the Secretariat provided by the WIA for the inaugural conference of the IARU Region 3 in Sydney. While serving as WIA President he attended the 1976 IARU world meeting in Miami, in conjunction with the Region 2 conference, at which the global objectives and strategy for World Administrative Radio Conference (WARC-79) were developed.

Along with Michael Owen, David was appointed to the Australian delegation at WARC-79 to represent Amateur Radio. It was one of the most significant conferences for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in many ways. For Amateur Radio it meant the allocation of the so-called WARC-bands for the Amateur Service, a major development that occurred during a very busy agenda. The pair returned home having played their roles in that IARU victory, but went on to serve further. David was a Director of IARU R3 1988-1994 and 1997-99, resigning in that time to succeed Michael as IARU Vice President, serving in that role from 1994-2004.

Tim Ellam fondly recalls that he succeeded David as IARU Vice President, and in the hand-over imparted his wisdom and guidance for this role. He said, "David was an effective representative of both Amateur Radio and the Australian administration at the ITU. His expertise was such that those he encountered assumed that 'Dr Wardlaw' held a Ph. D. in some field related to physics or engineering, but in fact, he was a dentist. "To this day, many ITU attendees speak often and highly of Dr Wardlaw, and I am continually asked when we will see him again."

In presenting the Michael J. Owen Award, the IARU President said, "I can think of no one more fitting to be presented with this award than you." A humble David Wardlaw received the accolade, saying it was a deep privilege to be awarded. He recalled that a young Michael Owen, then a law student, had shown an interest in the way radio was regulated, and after a Sunday morning at his house interested him in Amateur Radio. While he made many friends at the IARU. He quipped that ITU committee chairman would refer to him by his name, rather than a country like other delegates, giving him some added importance.

David is known for his quiet and diplomatic approach to important matters, but his truly thoughtful effectiveness on them can never be challenged.


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