ALARA members hail from all over Australia, and we also have our sponsored DX members scattered around the world.

Our members vary in age from schoolgirls to retirees; we have various backgrounds and careers, along with our families and other hobbies and interests.

You can read about some of our members on these pages and learn a little about their background to discuss next time you meet them on air!

Minnie VE3DBQ

black ribbon

Sadly, Minnie became a Silent Key on May 17th 2023. Minnie was a wonderful amateur radio operator, giving freely of her knowledge and urging us 'newbies' to 'have a go'. She will be sorely missed by us YLs who knew her as a friend and mentor in amateur radio. Vale Minnie VE3DBQ...

Minnie was one of our 'DX Members' and hailed from Newfoundland, Canada, though she lived for quite some time in Ontario. She became a 'White Cane Operator' with limited vision but she didn't allow that to become a barrier to enjoying her ham radio hobby. Here in her own words, is her story...

Tell us where you were born and where you have lived through your life?

alara member I was born in St. Johns, Newfoundland. When I was age 23 in 1951 we moved to Ontario, we felt there was more opportunities for a better life in a bigger province. We both found jobs right away. We decided to buy a house on a quiet street on the edge of town with other young families; we are still living in the same house.

What kinds of things do you currently do with ham radio?

My radio activity slowed down when I entered my 90s. I check the 40 meter net most Tuesdays to see if I can hear anyone and the same with the 20 meter net but HF has not been very good for quite a while. I really look forward to every other Wednesday listening for Shirley VK5YL and our group of YL's on Echolink which has grown in size over the past 20 years and I hope will keep going for many more years.

How do you manage ham radio being sight-impaired?

lady ham radio operator at her radio station In the early days I only had 80 meters; I kept track of time with my braille clock and kept a braille log on my brailller. Now I have the Kenwood 570 which has a voice frequency read out and automatic antenna tuner. I have a 50 foot self-supporting tower with an Explorer 14 tri band beam. I have a little device made by Handy Hams which can indicate the direction the antenna is pointed. I have a talking clock which lets me know the time, as well as the indoor and outdoor temperatures. I have a computer with a programme which enables it to read aloud text on the screen. I guess at signal reports, loud and clear is 5-9 and down from there.

What are your favourite non-ham activities?

Hand-knit dress My favourite activity is knitting and crocheting. I also enjoy reading audio books especially non-fiction works as well as listening to piano accordion music.

What did you do for work?

I was a stay at home mom, popular back then. Our 3 children arrived between the years of 1953 and 1957, a year or so later I became a registered member of the CNIB. I learned to read and write braille and the art of touch typing. A blind teacher came to our house every other week; it was very helpful at the time.

What is your biggest ham related success?

ham ladies presenting award I would have to say it was the year I accepted to become the president of CLARA, years of 1999 - 2000. The year 2000 was the start of a new millennium and 33rd anniversary for CLARA Someone said: let's have a party. We agreed: Venue? Catering? Prizes for lucky draws? Gifts for goodie bags? Guest speakers? Music? A few months later they were all answered. The CNIB offered their auditorium in down town Toronto as well as the CNIB amateur radio station; we also hired their catering staff for lunch and dinner. The rest of the questions were filled by CLARA members including Musical groups and speakers, lots of prizes and goodie bag gifts. Months of gathering everything together, a beautiful morning in June 2000 the executive arrived at the venue before 8am with everything, to be there before the guests arrived. Thanks to our CLARA members we had lots of prizes, about 50 goodie bags one for each CLARA YL attending. Some of us enjoyed working the radio station even talked to a few members who could not attend. We enjoyed informative talks and great music. Lots of time for face to face chatter, good food and every one went home with a prize, a wonderful 33 party.

How did you get involved in ham radio and get your licence?

I knew about the CNIB amateur radio programme and decided to enrol. Everything you needed to know about radio was available on cassette tape also code practice tapes. Our friend loaned me a radio receiver to listen to code and a key to practice sending code. That is all I did for months. I tried for the exam in July of 1975 it was a tense hour of questions and answers, sending and receiving CW. He finally congratulated me and said you have earned your licence. When I had my licence I could apply for the rent to own equipment to get started, a Heath Kit HW-12 Transceiver for 80 meters and an inverted v wire antenna. My son and husband set it all up for me and I was ready to go on air. It took a while to summon up the courage to push the button and announce my call. When I finally called in on one of the nets the response was overwhelming with encouragement it was so uplifting. I was spending so much time on the radio during the day one could work stations all over Ontario and during the evening hours the long skip allowed one to work the world. My first DX YL was a lady in South Africa and she told me she was a CLARA member which blew me away. The Ontario Amateur Radio Service net ONTARS runs every day from 6am to 6pm with a different net controller each hour, I was brave enough to try controlling and found it was a great way to get to know many amateurs,

What advantages do you get from being a CLARA member?

For me it's a sense of belonging to a family of sisters who share the love of the wonderful radio hobby, who enjoy keeping in touch and sharing stories. I enjoy reading the quarterly newsletter and keeping up on the news of CLARA. I am also a member of ALARA BYLARA and WARO and keep up with their news too.

Anything else you would like to tell us?

In the late 1980s we took a road trip to St. Johns NFLD with another couple in our new van. I went mobile with 2 meters and HF radio; it was so much fun talking to so many amateurs along the way to St. Johns. It was great spending time with family, old friends, enjoying the beautiful scenery and the fresh ocean breezes. On the way home I even managed to get a phone patch to my mom to let her know our progress back to Ontario. Our friends traveling with us were very impressed with the Amateur radio hobby.

hand knit dolls clothes

Sadly, Minnie passed away on Wednesday May 17th 2023. She will be remembered with fondness - Vale Minnie VE7DBQ