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Martin Young retires after more than 50 years

Martin Young has retired from Berthon – after more than 50 years working for the company.

His career at Berthon began in 1973 when he started as an apprentice joiner under foreman Don Slocombe, Ken Woolgar (father of current Berthon project manager Iain Woolgar), Tony Keeping and Ron Hampton.

A year into his apprenticeship, Martin won the Shipbuilding Industry Training Board’s Agar Trophy for best trainee, in competition with 75 others from around the country.

In his early years at Berthon, Martin worked on a variety of boats helping with interior and exterior finishes, progressing to leading the team making the sycamore interior for the first Mari-Cha for Bob Miller, founder of Duty Free Shops in the 1980s.

In 1983, he met and later married Anita Flood who was working in the Berthon accounts department at the company’s Christmas party. The couple celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 2023.

Martin Young working on Mari-Cha. Photo courtesy Berthon
Martin Young working on Mari-Cha. Photo courtesy Berthon

When Don Slocombe became ill with cancer, Martin’s talent, energy and leadership led to his promotion to joinery foreman.

Further projects followed including Martann, a 65ft aluminium motorboat with a bird’s eye maple and Canadian rock maple interior and the 90ft steel river-cruising barge Tigre d’Or.

From 1993 to 2003, Berthon was dominated by the construction of 20 Severn class RNLI lifeboats (plus three that were finished off when other shipyards failed).

To save weight, Martin and his team built the interior from aerospace-grade F board, a grp/epoxy sandwich with an aluminium honeycomb core.

Over the years, Martin has diversified his skills to include grp and composite laminating, laying teak decks, and invisible repairs to woodwork. He has also carried out the regular maintenance of the sawmill and workshop machine tools.

Carrying out invisible repairs were part of Martin's work for Berthon. Photo courtesy Berthon
Carrying out invisible repairs were part of Martin’s work for Berthon. Photo courtesy Berthon

Martin has passed on his expertise to two generations of apprentices, including Dave ‘Curly’ Bolwell, who is now joinery foreman.

“Martin’s impact on my career is huge,” said Curly. “Having trained me up as an apprentice 38 years ago, and then handing me the foreman role, he’s been there throughout my entire career. He’s passed down a wealth of knowledge and skills that I’m grateful for, and I wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Berthon shipwright Gabriel Perry, who has been working with him, added: “It’s not only that he’s brilliant at what he does; it’s his personality that stands out the most. His positivity is infectious.”

Both Martin and Anita are now planning on spending time with their grandchildren in both Australia and England, together with continuing his woodworking hobby and leisurely New Forest walks. “Berthon is its people. Martin Young is a huge part of the last half century of Berthon,” concluded Berthon director Dominic May. “He learnt his skills from the previous 50 years of craftsmen, and he has passed those skills on to the young apprentices who will be the next 50 years. We wish him a very happy, long and well-deserved retirement.”

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