Tribute to Colwyn Martin

CHARACTER: The late Colwyn Martin of Port Fairy. Mr Martin passed away last Friday, aged 103. His funeral will be held on Wednesday. Picture: ROB GUNSTONE
CHARACTER: The late Colwyn Martin of Port Fairy. Mr Martin passed away last Friday, aged 103. His funeral will be held on Wednesday. Picture: ROB GUNSTONE

THE Port Fairy community is mourning the loss of one of its oldest and most colourful residents.

Colwyn Martin passed away on Friday at the age of 103. A service for Mr Martin will be held at St Johns Anglican Church in Port Fairy on Wednesday at 11am.

Mr Martin, who was born in Willamstown, joined the British merchant navy at age 15, starting a lifetime of adventure that he once estimated had seen him travel around the world 28 times.

In an interview with The Standard in 2016, he told of the time a ship he was on was sunk by a submarine in the Irish Sea in World War II. 

“We were lucky, we spent a few days in a lifeboat, the boat was leaking,” he said. 

Mr Martin was a talented sportsman, representing two countries in lacrosse, first for Australia, and then for England when they were short of players at a Masters World Championship in Adelaide. He was also an accomplished competition sailor, taking part in 20 West Coasters and one Sydney to Hobart.

Mr Martin, who didn’t smoke or drink alcohol, attributed his longevity to staying active and looking after himself.

“I’m fairly strong minded and said to myself, I’m not touching it,” he said in regards to alcohol and smoking. “I can’t understand why so many educated young people are taking drugs and thinking they have to drink heavily to be part of the scene. You waste too much daytime when you sleep in.”

Mr Martin travelled to Sydney in June 2014 to celebrate his 100th birthday with his family. But such a grand occasion for such a flamboyant character was always going to mean one party was never going to be enough.

The Port Fairy Rotary Club hosted a party for Mr Martin, who was a long-time member of the club. He was made a Paul Harris Fellow and was a former president and secretary of the club. 

Port Fairy Rotary Club services project officer Bernie Waixel said Mr Martin was a much-loved member of the club.

“Col was a very active member of the club, he loved selling raffle tickets, doing meals on wheels and working on the gate of the folk festival,” Mr Waixel said.

Mr Martin was well known for his unique take on the Rotary grace and toast, which he carried out at each club dinner.