Rear Admiral Sir David Martin KCMG AO RAN entered the Royal Australian Navy at an early age and had a long naval career before becoming Governor of NSW in 1989.
The People's Governor
David grew up in Sydney and attended the Scots College in Bellevue Hill. His father was a Commander in the Navy and from an early age David showed interest in following his father's footsteps to a career in the Navy. Unfortunately, his father was killed during WWII with the sinking of HMAS Perth.
At 13 years of age, David joined the Royal Australian Navy as a Cadet Midshipman and attended the Royal Australian Naval College. He did further training in Britain with the Royal Navy before serving in the Korean War aboard HMAS Sydney. Sir David served on various ships and aircraft carriers during the following decades.
In 1984, Sir David became Flag Officer, Naval Support Command, Sydney, the Navy's fourth most senior position. During this time, he helped organise the Royal Australian Navy's 75th Birthday Celebrations which was a highlight of his career.
In 1988, Sir David retired from the Navy, now a figure in the public eye. Later that year, he was knighted a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG), shortly before accepting the role of Governor of New South Wales. He was sworn in as the state's 34th Governor on January 20, 1989.
As Governor of New South Wales Sir David was chairman, trustee, patron and supporter of a range of community services and charitable organisations and was able to view first hand, the hardships that were being faced by many Australians. He was particularly concerned about homeless and disadvantaged youth and was shocked that so many of these young people had no one who cared for them and their future. It was this concern which lead to the creation of Sir David Martin Foundation, which was considered by Sir David as the first step towards reaching his dream of 'an Australian community where children can grow up in safety, and with hope and opportunity.'
Sir David Martin was forced to retire from office due to ill health and died only three days later. At his funeral the Premier of New South Wales Nick Greiner noted:
"With the sad passing last week of Sir David Martin, Australia lost one of its most distinguished citizens. After a proud career of public service with the Royal Australian Navy, Sir David made the Office of Governor of New South Wales extremely accessible. He earned the epithet of 'The People's Governor' and made his mark on Australian society in the warmest and most human way."
Rear Admiral Sir David Martin was one of the most admired and respected naval officers of his era and his rapport with sailors was exceptional. He went on to win further admiration from the wider public during his time as Governor. Those who were fortunate enough to have met him have fond memories and recall his kindness, humility and remarkable spirit.
Sir David married Lady Suzanne Martin (nee Millear) in 1957 and together they had three children, Sandy, Anna and William. Since its inception, Lady Martin has been heavily involved with the Foundation and sits on the Board of Governors. She is active in decision making and contributes greatly to our fundraising events. Sir David's middle daughter Anna also works at the Foundation and continues to keep her father's legacy alive.
Videos of Sir David
In 1989 Sir David appeared in an educational video about the role of the Governor of NSW. Click the links below to watch the video on YouTube.