Tribute to Martin Wynne-Jones

Martin Wynne Jones (ON 1969-79), Honorary Treasurer of the Old Nottinghamians' Society, died on 17th April 2018, aged 57.  On Thursday 10th May at St Jude's Church, Mapperley, the Secretary of Nottinghamians RFC and Society Committee member Phil Renshaw (ON 1967-74) gave the following tribute to his friend.


Martin and I began to go swimming together on Monday mornings just over a year ago.  Not too early.  9.30pm at Rushcliffe Arena.  We quickly developed a routine that either bemused or frustrated more focussed Monday morning swimmers, i.e. everyone else in the pool.  2 lengths maximum, then break for a chat.  The first topic was always the weekend’s rugby.  Martin would talk me through how Nottinghamians had fared.  2 more lengths, then more conversation.  Sport was usually our focus.  Around 10am we would agree that it was time for a shower and a hot drink.  He loved his coffee.  A chance to carry on our conversation.

So over the last 12 months we had the chance to talk about a lot of things.  You all know that he was very good company and easy to talk to.

In our conversations I could see that his family meant a great deal to him - visiting his Mum and making sure that she was ok.  Martin treasured a plaque that his father had given to him for his car and he transferred it from car to car through his life.  I know how much his sister Erica and nephew Andy’s love and support had helped him through the last year.  We talked about Jane.  Martin gained comfort from their love for each other.  What a difficult year it had been, but he loved talking about their adventures when travelling, their shared passion for wildlife photography, their any time of year barbecues, their university times and, of course, their cats.  He loved their companionship during the evenings at home, particularly as they had meant so much to Jane.

Martin could tell a good story and had a great memory for names and places.  I particularly liked his account of how, aged 8, his Dad, who worked for Raleigh at the time, managed to fix it for Martin to be the first youngster to own and ride on the streets the very first Raleigh Chopper bike ever produced.  He remembered heads turning in amazement.  Some of Martin and Jane’s travelling stories were pretty hair-raising - but that made him smile.  He liked adventure and new experiences. He enjoyed life.

He would try to explain to me the intricacies of ten pin bowling, which he and Jane both played to a decent standard on a Thursday evening.  He was also a really good sounding post for any financial queries.  I know he took great pleasure in the friendships he had with the Shares Portfolio group.  That was also true of the contact he had with his friends from University and, of course, with the University of Nottingham itself.

Martin and I both went to the High School, but we didn’t really know each other then.  I know how proud he was of his links with the School.  It was much appreciated that the School sent out a very fitting ‘In Memoriam’ for Martin.  In recent years Martin made a massive contribution to the Old Nottinghamians’ Society in his role as Treasurer.  Professionalism was one of his hallmarks in the role, but he offered much more than that.  He was a consistent source of calm, wisdom and reason, particularly in the face of problems.

It was when we began playing rugby at Nottinghamians, almost 40 years ago, that our friendship developed.  We lined up alongside each other for many years.  I was fly half.  Martin was centre.  He was a superb rugby player - fearless in the tackle, determined, and with a natural ability to read the game.  I used to joke that Martin did all my tackling for me, but I think that was true.  And he never complained.  He was also a leader on and off the pitch, became first team captain, carried on playing long after I retired, and for the last 20 years plus was the cornerstone around which the Rugby Club dealt with the ups and downs of club rugby - very rarely not being on the touchline, either home or away.  He became treasurer of both the Rugby Club and the Old Nottinghamians’ Society Sports and Social Club.  And of course he was a double act with Jane at Adbolton for many years in the kitchen, behind the bar or as an unbeatable quiz team.

I am very grateful to Rod Exton and Matt Draper for sharing some thoughts with me about Martin.  Matt recounted that as a young player he knew Martin as a stalwart of the Club, but it was on the tour to Barcelona in 2000 that he really began to appreciate his special qualities, his willingness to go out of his way to look after others - not always easy on a Rugby tour.  From then on Matt referred to Martin as his ‘Tour dad’, as did several others!  Martin loved touring, using his natural charm to smooth over any potential diplomatic incidents,  presiding with fairness and wit over the tour court, hence his nickname ‘The Judge’.

Matt told me that after his own father, Chris Draper, passed away whilst Club President, he knew that there was only one person who could fill his shoes with such passion, commitment and enthusiasm for Nottinghamians, and that was Martin.  Matt was proud and pleased when Martin took on the role.  In a way all of us at Nottinghamians are Martin’s rugby sons.  His ever-present camaraderie and support were there whenever we needed them.  I attended the Rugby Club’s awards evening a few days ago.  Both young and old ‘Hamians echoed Matt’s words throughout the evening.  We feel that we have lost a true legend.  He embodied the best values of a player and clubman.  When the club played its Three Counties cup final earlier the same day, Martin’s kit was on the touchline, and members from many different clubs were keen to pay their respects to his memory.

There were so many facets to Martin.  An intelligent, caring, witty friend and colleague. Someone who would always go out of his way to help, and to put others at ease.  Always good company.  Serious about what needed to be done, but not taking himself too seriously.  The most humane of men.  He understood and believed in the value of fellowship between friends and was a great example to us all.  The sense of shock and loss at the news of his death is still there, but I know that there is so much to celebrate in the way that he lived his life and in the love that he shared with Jane.

Monday mornings will not be the same without you, my friend.

Martin Wynne-Jones, 24th March 2018