Martin Nutt, Dartmouth Rotary Club President
International Aid and Local Support
By his own admission, Martin Nutt is not usually keen to join clubs or be a member of committees. He’s never really felt the need.
Yet for the past year Martin has been the president of Dartmouth Rotary Club, and he says he has relished the role.
“I’m completely sold on the whole idea and concept of Rotary,” he said. “I like being part of the bigger picture and the global work of International Rotary, and I enjoy the local atmosphere of support and help at a community level within the town. It works well.”
Experienced businessman Martin was asked to join Dartmouth Rotary Club six years ago and went along out of curiosity. He discovered a multi faceted organisation that sought to use expertise to help other people.
“It is a chance to give something back to others – but the thing it did for me was it introduced me to another 40 people I didn’t already know, giving me fellowship and friendship.
“I like the camaraderie of the group and the ethos of helping others – and it is great fun. If it wasn’t fun I wouldn’t do it!”
Martin’s work within Rotary has been extremely varied – everything from selling Christmas chestnuts to raise money for charity, to liaising with other community leaders to work for the benefit of Dartmouth. Rotary is part of all local events, from Regatta and the Food Festival to Candlelit Dartmouth.
“There are 33,000 Rotary clubs around the world, and the expectation is that all clubs contribute to international projects. When Bill Gates donated a hundred million to eradicate polio, Rotary International matched it. Three thousand pounds of that came from Dartmouth.”
Another global project keenly supported by Dartmouth Rotarians is Shelterbox. These life saving boxes, each with tent, cooking equipment and emergency supplies, have most recently been part of emergency aid from the UK supplied to victims of the earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan.
Martin said: “They are a brilliant concept. Shelterbox was started by a Rotarian from Helston in Cornwall and we have done a lot of fundraising to pay for boxes and raise awareness of what a tremendous idea they are. Much of the money we raised by roasting chestnuts at Christmas went to Shelterbox, and Dartmouth Rotary Club members won the Dartmoor Challenge, which involved running across the moor carrying and living in a Shelterbox. That wasn’t me – that was younger fitter fellows!
“Last year Dartmouth Rotary supplied ten Shelterboxes for the charity, at a cost about £6,000. That is something to be proud of.”
Martin’s presidency has coincided with the 60th anniversary of Dartmouth Rotary Club, which now boasts 47 members from all sorts of different business backgrounds - from computer experts and estate agents to fishermen. It has been a year of continuing to forge links throughout the community of Dartmouth, helping school students with mock interviews, offering support to the Townstal Community Partnership, bringing together pivotal local figures such as the Commodore of Britannia Royal Naval College, the Harbour Master, the Mayor and school leaders. Sports competitions against neighbouring Rotary clubs in South Devon have been fiercely fought.
Martin said: “The idea with Rotary is that each member of one club has a different business background and a therefore a different set of skills. That way the organisation can offer a wide range of expertise. It’s great to do things like put a on suit and tie and offer mock interviews to local school leavers. How well they perform at interview can be the difference between getting a job or a place on a course, or losing out to the next person. We’ve also helped younger school children with public speaking – it’s great fun and gives them skills which will be useful throughout their working lives.”
Martin’s business background saw him rise from apprentice to general manager of a national company. He was in the printing industry, supplying ink, chemicals, paints and resin all over the world, and work took him around the globe to countries including South Africa, Zambia, Australia and the United States. He’s been retired since being made redundant 12 years ago, when his company was bought by French oil company Total. It was a happy departure, and brought Taunton-born Martin back to the South West.
“My wife and I were sailing from Chichester to Falmouth to see the Tall Ships Race and we became gale-bound in Dartmouth. The weather was impossible so we gave up and missed the start of the race, but we decided we really liked Dartmouth, so we went house hunting instead.”
Martin and wife Dee bought a house in Swannaton Road and at first used it as a base to travel. They spent three years living on a boat in Spain and Portugal, then travelled internationally by camper van. But Martin added: “It doesn’t matter where in the world I go, when I come home and see the view from my sitting room I always think ‘Well I haven’t seen anything that’s better than that.’”
Once settled back in Dartmouth they each threw themselves into volunteering for the town, Martin with Rotary and Dee as chair of trustees for Dartmouth Caring.
A father of two, Martin’s daughters live in Brazil and in London.
When he’s not busy with Rotary business, he enjoys playing bowls and petanque. He rows with a group of friends who between them own a giglet, and they also row whalers in the Regatta for the Floating Bridge. “It’s usually one hour rowing and two in the pub, but it’s great fun!” he said.
In addition, Martin and Dee are big fans of the Flavel and regularly attend for plays, comedy and films. “It is brilliant to be able to walk to the theatre and see great quality productions here in Dartmouth. The Flavel is wonderful for the town.”
First published May 2011 By the Dart