A 14-YEAR-old is celebrating becoming a fully licensed operator after spending a year of her own time learning how to build and operate a radio.

Madeleine Dale, from Colburn, was inspired to get involved in the hobby - also known as ham radio - after Colin Lyne, from the Colburn and Richmondshire District Amateur Radio Society, gave a talk to the Girl Guide group she attends about 18 months ago. The group were shown how the radio works and made contact with an amateur radio user in America, who spoke to the girls about the hobby.

Madeleine has now passed her amateur radio operator exam with an astonishing 98 per cent of the total marks available and has received her licence from regulator Ofcom. It now means she is able to make contact with people around the world, in what she says is a more personal version of social media.

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“It’s quite fun to plan who you’ll make contact with on a big map," she said.

"You still have to be careful as you would on social media not to give out an address or post code or personal information like that. But it’s more personal than social media because you’re just talking to someone directly.”

As well as speaking to people around the world, it also allows her to help emergency services through the Radio Amateurs’ Emergency Network (RAYNET), at large public events.

The St Francis Xavier School pupil, who wants to go into the police force when she's older, said: “I wanted to do it because there aren’t many girls that do this and I wanted to be one of the first because it’s quite cool having a radio licence and speaking to people around the world.”

Her mother, Angie Dale, a former member of the Royal Signals, said: “She had to be committed and commit a lot of her own time. She attended the training sessions regularly and has done a lot of work.

“The next level up is a lot more technical and involves a lot more soldering; it’s a lot more hands on and involves learning more about frequencies rather than the electronics.”