Paul Gibson – Chairman

I joined the Masts and Aerials Section of the IBA in 1980 after spending my early career travelling around the world (and the UK) installing TV and radio transmitters for the Marconi Company.

With the advent of the mobile phone in the early 80s, the IBA’s mast and tower portfolio was ideal for the newly emerging Cellnet and Vodafone and a whole new section (Facilities Leasing!) was set up to deal with this, where I was responsible for project managing the installations onto the sites. This then developed into acquiring further portfolios of sites from other companies.

When the decision was made to digitise the whole TV broadcast network in 2003 (I think!), I joined the DSO team responsible for this. There I worked on producing the Reference Offers which made our network available to the broadcasters, both commercial and the BBC, until I was made the ‘offer I couldn’t refuse’ in 2008 to take early retirement.

Since retirement I seem to have been busier than ever. I have just finished a 6 year stint as Chairman of our local Parish Council but they still won’t let me go! I’m also involved with running a small company that provides PA systems for events, as well as mending anything electronic for anyone who asks.

Marios Zapitis – Treasurer and Membership Sec

I joined the IBA in 1980 straight from university after having done a 6 month industrial training the year before as part of my degree course.  In the early days I worked in the Masts & Aerials Group as an antenna engineer until 1990 and then moved on to project management in Telecoms.  I was then appointed Engineering Manager for Radio and got involved in the early pioneering work for Digital Radio (DAB) and then moved on to TV where I was part of the team rolling out the world’s first Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) in 1998.  In 2000 I spent a very enjoyable 6 month in Australia helping out NTL Australia to rollout DTT and DAB services.  On returning to the UK, I was then involved in something completely different in building out NTL’s first ever Playout Centre in Feltham and is still in operation today playing out numerous Satellite and DTT TV channels.

In 1995 I moved to Arqiva after the sale of NTL Broadcast and became involved in the rollout of DSO (Digital SwitchOver) as a Head of Programme implementation.  This was a massive and a very high profile project for both Arqiva and myself and was successfully delivered in the end of 2012 both in budget and on time with high praise from the customers and the UK government.  After DSO I was appointed as Arqiva’s Projects Director where I was responsible for the successful delivery of all of Arqiva’s projects ranging from Broadcast, Telecoms and Satellite.  I took early retirement in late 2014 and now spend more time with the family and particularly with my 2 grandchildren. I became an NTLPA committee member in early 2018 and voted into the Treasurer’s position in the October 2018 AGM.

Mike Thorne – Secretary and OPA liaison

My NTL pensioner career began in 2002 when I took early retirement from Crawley Court where I was a director in the International Mergers and Acquisitions group when NTL’s financial difficulties were triggered by the telecom stock market collapse. Prior to those four years in international business I was the director of Broadcast Radio at Crawley Court, taking the business through from the IBA privatisation into the commercial world.

My earlier roles in the IBA were as an engineer and then an engineering manager at Stockland Hill and in the Crawley Court SD&C department. I was the project manager for the Channel 4 Marconi main station transmitter procurement and installation programme.

After retiring from NTL in Jan 2002 I consulted occasionally in the Telecoms and Broadcast Transmission market but have now withered on that vine. I joined the NTLPA committee at the AGM in 2005 and was elected Chairman at the AGM held in November 2008, retiring from this role at the Sept 2011 AGM.

My leisure interests are predominantly gliding related, both as a cross country pilot and an instructor. I’m also an active member of a Rotary Club in Romsey and a poor player of Bridge after succumbing to a 12 week teaching session from my wife. Unlike most NTLPA members its seems, I don’t play golf!  I think I could still tune a klystron if pressed but where are they all?

Picture of Graham Sawdy
Graham Sawdy – Webmaster

My first job was at the BBC where I travelled around the UK commissioning UHF relay stations – large vapour cooled klystron ones in those days as well as smaller travelling wave tube ones. This was followed by a period converting all the FM main stations and networks to stereo, with a digital distribution netowork, and later the work to upgrade the transmitters to 2x20kW and mixed polarisation. Finally I spent short while in the BBC’s Communications Department.

A move out of London was threatening and I didn’t like the uncertainty. I’d visited Crawley Court and thought how much nicer it was than London. I applied and got a job in IBA Telecoms Department in 1986. The job again included a stereo conversion – this time the conversion of ITV and C4 networks to NICAM sound – as well as a number of links projects for TV and ILR.

With privatisation, NTL Telecoms was looking for new business areas and things really took off with a contract to provide links between Vodafone switch sites. More customers followed and soon we needed more capacity than our radio links could provide. So we started installing optical fibre – which, along with our UK wide telecoms licence, possibly led a small US owned UK cable company called CableTel to buy NTL from its initial private equity owners (Mercury Asset Management)!

I saw the growth of the fibre transmission network right through from this small beginning to become probably the second largest network in the UK and ended up heading the Transmission Architecture team at Hook.

The Telewest/Virgin merger caused a lot of headcount reductions and I was happy to get redundancy in October ’06, about 30 months before I would have retired anyway.

My wife and I live in Winchester, where our two sons were born. They are now through uni and theoretically off our hands but continue to provide additional diy jobs to add to the list! I still enjoy skiing and try to keep up with some cycling too.

Paul French – Newsletter Editor

I joined the IBA in 1983, starting at the Harman Engineering Training College on an 18 month training course; those were the days! I was ‘posted’ to Emley in 1985, working in the ROC and on field operations.

Since the early 90′s I worked in lots of different areas of IBA/NTL/Arqiva, even in the ex-Cabletel super head-end at Langley. When I finally left Arqiva in 2015 I was fortunate enough to be leading the terrestrial field operations job, still based at Emley but travelling all over the UK. It was a good time to leave; what better job could I have had, and what better people to work with..? I’ve been married to Gill for 21 years, and we have 3 grown-up (?!) children, 31, 29 and 27.

Since retiring I’ve managed to expand on my hobby of dry stone walling, volunteering for the Peak District National Park and a local environmental group. I now keep bees, as you might have guessed, and I still have a passion for motorcycling. I make a mean pork pie and I’ve just been sworn-in as a magistrate and I’m looking forward to my first sitting on the bench. And I’m still a keen DIY-er!

I originally got involved with the NTLPA to get in amongst the vast of information that is available and tap in to some good opinions, and that is still the case. And, thanks to silver-tongued Trevor Birkbeck, I now edit the NTLPA mag, which I’m really enjoying…honest..!

Bruce Langham

I joined the IBA/ITA in 1971, taking part in the Junior Engineer In Training (JEiT) basic training scheme. This involved three terms at Plymouth Polytechnic with two extra terms at a TV main station, Caradon Hill in Cornwall. 1971 was also an important year for me, as I married Diana.

My first posting after JEiT training was at Chillerton Down, on the Isle of Wight, where our two daughters Natalie and Sophie were born. With the closure of the original “Colour Control Rooms”, I decamped to the Southampton Mobile Maintenance Base, moving on to the Regional Engineers E&S Project Office. I was heavily involved with the construction phase of the Channel Four Analogue Network, my speciality being the high power UHF relay sites.

Diana and I reacquainted ourselves with packing cases to relocate to Preseli in West Wales for four years. Moving back to the Southampton area at the start of the Chilworth Satellite broadcasting project, for the original BSB company. With the start of the Crawley Court Satellite Farm, probably came the most difficult period of my working life, taking part in 24 hour shifts, while still keeping the terrestrial TV & radio sites in our area up to scratch. My last slot was at the purpose built Winchester Service Centre at Crawley Court with Arqiva, still keeping my hand in with any project work in the local area. I retired in 2009 after almost 38 years service, celebrating with a trip to the Maldives.

Now retired for almost 5 years my interests include playing badminton, classical music, collecting CDs & playing the piano – when no-one else is in ear shot. How is it that I spend a fortune in time & money on DIY, car servicing & repairs, while my daughters have it all done for free, via the company of Mum & Dad?

John Jardine

After leaving the RAF in 1986, I started work with the (then) Directorate of Telecommunication, Home Office at Kippax Maintenance Unit, near Leeds, working on a variety of tasks, from repairing modules from personal radios through to base stations.
To give me a broader experience of the work of the department, I was seconded, first of all, to the local service centre, then out to their Bradford sub-centre, working on everything from police vehicles to hill-top sites. This lasted about 6 months, when I returned  to Kippax MU, working on the first fully synthesized police radio equipment. During this time, I was appointed as local union representative, which led to more responsibility in this role. In the run-up to privatisation from DTELS, as we were then known as, to NTL in March 1994, I took part in many meetings with the Home Office and senior management of NTL.
My work responsibilities changed in the late 90s to looking after paging equipment for HM Coastguard, which then led to being involved in the role out of pagers for the RNLI. I really enjoyed this work, as I was liaising not only with the local service engineers but staff at most RNLI stations, length and breadth of the country.
In 2005, I took redundancy from NTL, and then took the opportunity to do “ something completely different “ and was appointed to a position within a major high-street financial organization, where I ended up working in their department, buying and selling shares for customers in various stock markets. I retired from there in 2014.
Since retiring, I have spent time volunteering for two charities in the area.
My other interests are cooking and reading. Jean and I share an interest in antiques and occasionally attend antique fairs in the area.
For the past 10 years or so, we have enjoyed holidays in Cyprus, where we love meeting new people, the guaranteed sunshine and the local food.

John Fuller

I joined the IBA on the day it moved in to Crawley Court in September 1973 as a Junior Engineer (Trainee), arriving before my new section’s furniture and being sent home for a few days until it turned up!

Most of my time with the IBA/National Transcommunications/ntl was spent on the TV side, working on video, audio & telemetry system design and implementation. Following many reorganisations, I ended up as the Analogue TV Product Manager a post I held until leaving at the end of July 2003 having worked at Crawley Court for nearly 30 years.

I took over as NTLPA’s secretary at the AGM in 2004 for a three year period, then in March 2008 I agreed to take on the responsibility for monitoring and reporting on all pension matters. When Steven Cole decided to retire from his role as webmaster, I stepped in – not so much as webmaster, more webnovice!  My main interests outside NTLPA are in athletics, I’m Treasurer of Winchester & District AC and officiate at Track & Field meetings amongst other things. I’m still trying to find the time to do more of those things I promised myself I’d do when I had more time – walking, bird watching, sorting out the garden, skiing and traveling more ……..

Tom Bowling

I joined Hannington Depot in 1970 and after 6 months transferred to Wiltshire who were due to have new Hill top site equipment. Pye R.L.A. with A.s.s.o.r.t. (to the Broadcast people a.s.s.o.r.t. is incoming multisite Rx Voting, clever stuff remembering its still only 1974.) Interestingly and before the advent of Pye R.L.A our own R+D people developed a multisite voter called Ermintrude – we never understood the name! This was trialled in Wilts with good results.

In 1977 I transferred to Dorset and spent 23 years involved with systems maintenance including Pye Mascot control equipment and combined with R.L.A./ A.S.S.O.R.T. was a huge step forward from the old systems. Happy days, all hands on with no software!

NTL acquired the old firm in 1994 and I retired in 2000 after an interesting career in Wireless maintenance. These days Lynda and I are kept busy with our 5 grandchildren, sailing our boat from Parkstone and Oh! I nearly forgot to mention my 8 years as area union rep pre and post acquisition.

Trevor Birkbeck

Worked for IBA, ntl & Arquiva as Antenna Maintenance Engineer
Retired Jan 2002…then back to work Sept 2005 retiring again Jan 2012….then back again Oct 2012 to ? Unknown as I’m still on contract (though not as an Antenna Maintenance Engineer)
Elected!! Newsletter editor at 2013 AGM
Interests are Hang Gliding, Paragliding, Motorcycling, Sailing

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