Labour of love keeps boaties safe

Callum HunterSouth Western Times
Richard and Rae Thorp got the radios to keep in touch with relatives but have now been keeping watch over sailors for 32 years.
Camera IconRichard and Rae Thorp got the radios to keep in touch with relatives but have now been keeping watch over sailors for 32 years. Credit: Callum Hunter

For the past 32 years, Rae and Richard Thorp have been watching over our west coast.

Every day between 7am and 10pm they have manned their marine radios, keeping track of the boats going out and coming back from the sea between Dawesville and Augusta.

“It used to be six o’clock but we’re getting a bit older and like to lay in a bit longer now,” Rae joked.

Both Rae, 69, and Richard, 74, are on call 24/7 thanks to equipment fitted throughout their Capel home.

“Sometimes we have boaties out for the whole night, so we give them a call late and then first thing in the morning to check on them,” Rae said.

“After all, we are responsible for them when they call and it is our duty to make sure they are always safe.”

The South Western Times spoke to the couple as part of Crown Perth’s Summer to Remember campaign.

The resort complex is looking for friends and family to nominate a community hero who can win a staycation at Crown Towers as a well-deserved reward and thank you.

Executive general manager Andrew Cairns said Crown was “excited” to share summer with those who deserved it the most.

For the Thorps, the radios originally came about as a way to contact relatives in Busselton.

It quickly opened up new possibilities and provided a link to people all over the world.

“We ended up talking to people all around the world and made a lot of good friends ... local and distant,” Rae said.

Rae and Richard Thorp have been manning the radios for more than three decades.
Camera IconRae and Richard Thorp have been manning the radios for more than three decades. Credit: Callum Hunter

This seemingly limitless list of contacts eventually led to the suggestion the couple join the ACRM Emergency Monitoring Group.

It was a decision they have stuck by to this day and earned them the Australian Maritime Safety Authority national award in 2009 as well as 2018 Capel Citizen of the Year.

After more than three decades logging the comings and goings of vessels on western waters, both Rae and Richard admit they had endured their fair share of emergencies, including a missing vessel in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

“We don’t like to highlight ourselves,” Rae said.

“We’re doing this job because we love it.”

Richard said he could not remember the last time the couple had enjoyed a holiday together but he and his wife would carry on watching over mariners for another 32 years “if they had that long left in the tank”.

“I have no plans to give it away until they carry me out in a pine box,” Rae said.

As part of the Summer to Remember campaign, Crown Perth will host six West Australians and a guest each over a summer weekend.

They will access to the venue’s restaurants and leisure areas as well as free accommodation paid travel to Crown.

For more information visit Crown Perth online.

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