Aus Day nominee brings schools, transport to Solomon Islands
WITH a passion for helping others and impeccable managerial skills, Yeppoon’s John Martin has made a mark on the Capricorn Coast - so much so, he was nominated in the recent 2020 Livingstone Shire Council Australia Day Awards - the award since going to Yeppoon Lions Club’s Elizabeth Goodsell.
When Mr Martin found out he had earned a nomination for the Living Legend Award, he was “excited”.
“It sort of floored me a bit. I didn’t realise I was anybody special,” he said. “I didn’t expect anything like that. I’m just a working guy trying to make things a bit better.
“I’ve never been nominated for anything in my life. I think I was nominated by the Rotary Club - I think they just thought I deserved something.”
In 1994, Mr Martin was working as a sawmill manager at Dawson Valley when he heard about a government plan to create an organisation in Yeppoon with hostel accommodation.
While attending his local Seventh Day Adventist church, he was approached by the pastor who said there was a job that would be perfect for the doting dad of four.
“I said ‘what would I know about retirement villages and hostel accommodation?’ I shrugged it off but when I saw the milling industry was on the way down, my wife wrote my resume and put it in and the rest is history,” he said.
Mr Martin started at the retirement village as a manager, and then went on to become a project manager and then a development manager.
When the Capricorn Adventist Retirement Village first came to fruition it was a four-hectare site with a hostel rooming 36 beds and six bed sitters.
From day one, each bed has been occupied, with the home since expanding to include independent living units as well as 66 residential places - 12 of which are for residents with memory impairment and dementia.
It was Mr Martin’s idea to expand the village into something bigger.
“When I got appointed there, I could see that to make something viable, we had to get more land and more beds,” he said.
“We built 193 retirement village homes.
‘I had a good team working for me and Livingstone Shire Council was helpful too.
“It was a great job. I was in charge of buying the land, getting it developed, and building the houses.”
It was the first of its kind in Yeppoon - the first retirement village with ongoing care for residents, where they could go and live and “know they’re looked after” before moving on into care.
Mr Martin’s wife Margaret had worked as a matron at the Yeppoon Hospital before joining her husband at the village and becoming “in charge of the service” after being accredited.
Mrs Martin is now a resident at the village - coming full circle.
However, after 15 years, Mr Martin was made redundant when he turned 70.
The Martins decided to take the time to travel the world before going home to Yeppoon, where Mr Martin began volunteering at the Rotary Club.
Through his work with Rotary, Mr Martin has spent years doing voluntary work in the Solomon Islands - building clinics, schools and churches, the very first secondary school for the area at the Guarda Canal and bringing around 500 bikes (donated and salvaged) over to teach locals to work on them and provide them with a means of transport. “It’s a very isolated place. It was quite an eye opener because it’s very much an underdeveloped country and they just live out of the jungle and grow some veggies for themselves so we were also putting in water to the villages,” he said.
Mr Martin’s daughter Julie is now the village manager, keeping the Martin name alive within the retirement community.