Mary’s mighty marine work

Recognition. Seventeen years of volunteering has landed Smithton’s Mary Kay a spot as a finalist in the 2013 Tasmanian Community Achievement Awards.

Mrs Kay, who operates Smithton Coast Guard radio, was nominated in the Heather and Christopher Chong Outstanding Achiever Award category, which recognises individuals who excel in their chosen endeavours.

In her nomination, it was noted that Mrs Kay operates the station – from her home – entirely on her own, and has done so for about 17 years.

Mrs Kay is the only woman in Tasmania to operate such a station on her own.

The radio’s area of coverage reaches most parts of Tasmania, as well as Bass Strait.

The radio is monitored 24 hours a day.

The service provided has grown from a few calls a year, to receiving between 4000 to 5000 calls yearly.

Over the years Mrs Kay has assisted well over 160 people on the water, some in serious situations.

It was noted that she has helped to save six peoples’ lives.

Mrs Kay’s day starts at 6am, forecasting weather reports and taking position reports from boaters and fishermen out on the water. She does the same again at about 8am and 3pm.

“I do it because it’s something I love to do,” Mrs Kay said. “It’s rewarding.”

Mrs Kay, 77, moved to Australia from Yorkshire, England, at age 11. “My father was a sailor. He used to always take me to the sea,” she said.

“I was taught from a young age, to help your community is a good thing.”

She said she saw a need for it in the community and “felt it was a way of repaying”.

Of her nomination she said, “I was surprised and do feel quite humbled about it, and honoured”.

Award winners will be announced at a dinner in Hobart on Friday November 22.

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