Mary Kay has been an invaluable resource in the commercial and recreational boating scene on the north west coast for over 25 years.
Upon her retirement this month, Lia Morris on behalf of the board and staff of Marine and Safety Tasmania (MAST) said her presence on the airways would be sorely missed and wished Mary a happy retirement, passing on their gratitude for her service over the years.
On her retirement Mary says she had planned on quietly sneaking out.
“I just turned the radio off and that was that.”
Alerting MAST of her retirement plans, Mary quietly put the feelers out to see if there was any interest taking over her role, however she wasn’t keen on having someone come into her home to do it.
“Times are changing, everyone works and is busy with their families,” she said.
“I’ve enjoyed doing it, it was never a burden and I was giving a service to our community.”
Many times Mary has given assistance to people at sea and has helped save lives.
Mary has helped in the rescue of many yachts and their crews when they have run aground by arranging tows and calling emergency services for injured crew members.
Mary’s day would start at 6am, giving weather reports, taking position reports, assisting police when required in police rescues across Bass Strait and surrounding waters.
She has provided this service entirely voluntarily and unpaid, applying for grants over the years but happily paying out of her own pocket where needed.
Mary recalls there were a few changes over the years with the improving of technology, originally working under the Smithton Coast Guard before becoming Smithton Sea Rescue, Mary then worked alongside the crew from MAST, who she says have been generous supporters, giving help where needed and building a lifelong relationship with them.
“I’ve made a lot of wonderful friends and acquaintances,” Mary said.
“There’s been good, sad, funny quite humorous times, it’s been enjoyable.”
“I’m glad I was able to do this for the community,” she said.
Coming to Australia as an 11 year old in 1947, Mary travelled by plane over 10 days, stopping in a different country every night.
“I sat in the cockpit with the pilot for most of the trip,” she recalls.
“It was a history and geography lesson, I saw the first middle eastern conference, it was history in the making.
“I tasted real ice cream in Italy and my had my first piece of white bread in France.
“When we came to Australia, I fell in love with the country.”
Mary, also a published author, plans on spending more time with her family while she writes their family history in her retirement.
Mary Kay has signed off on her last radio shift, retiring after over 25 years of volunteering as Smithton’s marine radio operator.