THESE days, communicating with a friend or relative on the other side of the world is easy and instantaneous and can be done by phone, text, social media or Skype.

Back in the Fifties, getting in touch with relatives across the world was far more tricky and the only two real options were by post or by phone.

However, amateur radio enthusiasts had found a way of speaking, using radio antennae, and the life of one of these radio wizards was celebrated by a family in Leigh on Christmas Day.

For many decades, Gordon “Dicky” Bird sent signals around the world using the call sign G4ZU.

He died in 2005 aged 86, but on Christmas Day three generations of Mr Bird’s family gathered at a house in Leigh to communicate once again using the call sign, which became well known to amateur radio enthusiasts around the world.

Mr Bird’s son-in-law Pete Sipple, 46, said from the 1950s onwards his father-in-law was responsible for developing advanced radio antennas, including one that could send a signal around the world by bouncing it off the ionosphere.

Mr Bird’s son Chris visited the Sipple family for the Christmas celebration and sent Christmas greetings to his sister Sarah using the call sign, while she in turn received a radio transmitted message from her daughter Kathryn, eight.

Before the commemoration could take place, approval was secured from his family and the Government’s communications regulator Ofcom.

Mr Sipple said amateur radio technology could be used to communicate with the International Space Station as it orbits the earth as the astronauts on board send unscheduled radio signals to earth during breaks or at weekends.

In August, Gloucestershire man Adrian Lane made headlines when he had a 50 second chat with an American astronaut on board the space station via a radio set up in a shed at his home.

Mrs Sipple said: “It’s great that we were able to do something special in memory of Dicky’s passion for amateur radio, It was a nice Christmas present, and one for the family scrapbook.”