How long have you lived in the Dartmouth area?
I moved into Dartmouth via Scotland (I’m half Scottish!) and the Midlands in the early eighties but have known the area for a good deal longer. Since moving here I met my wife Dawne and we celebrate twenty one years of marriage this year. Initially we were in Dartmouth and now live in Stoke Fleming which we enjoy very much. My parents joined us in Dartmouth after my father retired as a ship’s doctor in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary after the Falklands War.
What career course did you follow?
I began with H.M. Customs and Excise mainly in the VAT section (probably a bit of my working life that I prefer to forget!) but moved on to become a probation officer for many years which I found infinitely more interesting. I worked largely with young offenders and I had some part to play in arranging for them to be given the chance to undertake sail training with what is now known as The Trinity Trust and the initiative proved to be very successful. I was head-hunted into the private sector about eleven years ago, still dealing with the disadvantaged in society and helping them find employment. What was a very small company when I joined grew substantially and I found myself moving away from the ‘coalface’ and ended up managing the IT section. The company was eventually taken over two years ago by a multi-national and it was then that I decided to take voluntary redundancy, semi retire and just do something on a self employed basis to keep me out of too much mischief!
How did you get into sailing?
My father put me in a boat at the age of four years old and I was hooked! We brought our boat down here from where we lived in Droitwich in the Midlands in 1968 and joined the Yacht Club at the same time.
What boat do you have now?
Dawne and I have a classic 30 foot ketch built in 1968 by Cheoy Lee of Hong Kong, the Rolls Royce of boat builders in the Far East who now build super yachts. It is only one of two of its type in the country and although we know it had originally been destined for California we have no idea how it ended up here. We have made extensive use of her sailing over to France and the Isles of Scilly.
What plans does the club have?
The Club is run by an active Committee and we are working hard to consolidate our offer in what are hard times for any organisation or club. We are trying to do is add value to the membership fee, for example by providing courses and qualifications at reduced cost as an RYA Training Centre. We have negotiated discounts with traders both in and outside of the town for our members. Our club is a lovely friendly place with good facilities and a superb outlook and we also have significantly full social and sailing programmes this year. Our canoeing section under Tim Freeman is also doing very well and has recently been awarded some grant money which has been used to purchase sea kayaks.
You were recently featured on the BBC Antiques Roadshow…
Yes: my grandfather was third and latterly first officer on board Earnest Shackleton’s ‘Nimrod’ during the 1907-1909 British Antarctic Expedition. When the programme was recorded at BRNC I took along some of grandfather’s memorabilia from the expedition. I was very surprised to be chosen to appear on the programme but determined to keep a calm composure. It also, as I found out, isn’t as spontaneous as it appears when broadcast. Having submitted to ‘make-up’ for the cameras and giving all my knowledge to the expert he then proceeded to regurgitate it back to me when the cameras were rolling! Needless to say when I was told the items were museum quality and the valuation was extremely favourable my good intentions went out of the window and I announced to the viewing millions ‘You’ve flabbered my gast’…or something equally inane!
Do you have any other hobbies/interests?
I have always enjoyed music and guitar playing. Now, I am one of the Nauti Buoys, a rumbustious and good humoured sea shanty band which plays to raise money for several charities, the RNLI and Air Ambulance in particular. We had a great time at the Dartmouth Music Festival!
For further information www.dartmouthyc.org.uk
Dartmouth Yacht Club, South Embankment, Dartmouth, Devon, TQ6 9BB. Tel: 01803 832305
First Published June 2011