Paul St John Martin’s philosophy on life is simple – you either endure it or enjoy it. From a very early age Paul opted for the latter. Now having just turned 60 he has time to relax and reflect on a hectic lifestyle he claims has been enhanced, in order of importance, by happiness, health and wealth.

Paul, who lives with Sue, his wife of 37 years, near Merstone, once took part in the Cape Town to Boston leg of sailing’s BT Global Challenge. He spent the Millennium not in an over-priced hotel, but at the base camp of Mount Everest. He has helped the visually impaired negotiate the Higher Atlas Mountains; shared the wisdom of the Maasai elders in Africa, and swum with sharks at the Great Barrier Reef – not to mention jumping out of airplanes.

The BT Global Challenge evolved purely by chance when he spotted an advert for recruits in a newspaper. When he decided to make known his interest in taking part he was politely told from the other end of the phone: “Yes sir, you and 10,000 others!”

Undeterred, and in the safe knowledge he had suffered a snapped Achilles tendon twice, and had metal pins inserted in his shoulders he even applied to sail on a boat for the disabled. He got to the interview stage, but when he met Chay Blyth to further his cause he was told abruptly by the Round the World yachtsman: “You don’t look very disabled to me!”

Paul continued: “I argued that I couldn’t run any more so I was not fully able, but by then the list of 10,000 applicants had dwindled to 2,500. Then one day I had a call saying ‘if you want to go you can go’. They had kept me on the reserve list for a year, by which time everybody else had dropped out, and I got the place.”

Paul’s yacht finished 13th of 14 on the leg he completed, negotiating force 10 gales and The Doldrums. He says: “Being on a 63ft boat with 14 others for seven weeks taught me an awful lot about life. For one thing never allow people to get into the doldrums, because they just malfunction.

“But it was a fascinating experience. I met people I could trust with my wife and my wallet, but you meet others you could barbecue!” Then with the Millennium looming Paul didn’t fancy doing what most others had planned. So he decided to go to Mount Everest – not right to the top but to the base camp. Even so he had to encounter temperatures of minus-25, a bit nippy for someone who admits he prefers adventures in much warmer places.

Paul was one of a dozen in his group who undertook the trip, helped by porters and guides, and it took 10 days to reach the camp at 19,000ft. The one thing he learned on that adventure was never mix alcohol with altitude. On the way back down, which took seven days, two of his colleagues – a Scot and a South African – decided to have a few beers in the hotel they were staying. They got a bit boisterous playing cards and upset some Germans who were on the way up to base camp. One suddenly got up and shouted: “Why don’t you English shut up!”

The Scot and South African were not amused at being called ‘English’ and fisticuffs threatened until Paul intervened, appealed to their basic instinct and asked: “Do you want a fight or dinner?” They chose to eat and peace was restored. Paul reckons the trip that taught him the most was the one to Africa to speak to members of the Maasai tribe, a Nilotic ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania.

He says: “I met someone who took people out there to show how the Maasai live. People tend to think they are savage and threatening, but nothing could be further from the truth – they are wonderful people.” Paul was in a group of eight, who travelled in two Land Rovers accompanied by drivers and guides. They lived under canvas for 10 days while meeting the Maasai people. He was particularly impressed with a 93-year-old elder who told him:

“We always discuss things in an open forum before making a decision. Murder is very rare here, but if it did happen we would decide on the punishment – with the perpetrator usually excluded from the tribe and fined maybe 36 cows.

“A reasonable wealthy Maasai probably has five or six cows. Obviously the guy cannot pay the ‘fine’ so then we go to his family – mother and father, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts – who also have cows and go through the process of taking them until the fine is paid.” Paul reckons that is a great way of dealing with such matters and focuses responsibility. He believes it is much better than a system that puts someone in prison ‘giving them bed and breakfast for 30 years with a colour TV thrown in’.

After Everest and Tanzania, Paul helped take a group of visually impaired adventurers through the Higher Atlas Mountains in the northern Sahara, up to 10,000ft. He reflects: “These people may have had a disability, but were incredibly spirited and never complained. We were falling in ravines, walking along tracks where only donkeys had gone before but not one murmur of discontent. Many people lack that roundness.”

He has also jumped out of airplanes, and as a qualified scuba diver, has swum with sharks off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. He says: “The key to it all is trusting the people who are responsible for you. When it comes to sharks it is best to know which ones bite. But the guide says ‘just do what I have told you to do and you will be fine’. It’s so true that you just have to have the confidence of the people around you to succeed.”

One venture he was not successful at was when he stood at this year’s General Election as the Island’s Middle England candidate. Deep down he never really expected to cause an upset, and in such a busy schedule Westminster would probably have proved an inconvenience. However, he has carried the philosophy of trust and confidence into his financial services business, saying: “I regard myself as the guide through the minefield of money management. My career is to advise clients on investments and tax.”

Not bad for someone who openly admits his only interests at school were football and motorbikes, before he spent many years in farming. He was brought up in a cottage in the middle of a wood in Kent, with the nearest town, Royal Tunbridge Wells, nine miles away.

“There was no electricity no hot water, no inside toilet, but a fantastic life, and an adventure in itself,” he smiled. “The nearest neighbours were two miles away, and I had to walk through woods to get the bus to and from school. The woods were my den, in the middle of an estate owned by Lord Camden. He married a woman about 30 years his junior, and he took professional advice on how to protect the estate, because he expected to die before her.

“One day when I was about 15 I came home from school and some of the mature trees on the 3,000 acre estate had been cut down. My play ground was being decimated. My dad explained they had been chopped down to pay what in those days were called death duties. Lord Camden’s wife had suddenly died, and because of the way he took advice, they structured the estate around her, and the only way to pay the death taxes was to sell all the timber. I asked myself why he had to pay tax unnecessarily, and why the advice he received wasn’t very sound. That impacted on me.”

Despite being good at maths, he went into farming after leaving school. He continued: “I became a farming apprentice and then went to college and progressed as a cowman, tractor driver and foreman before becoming a manager for a millionaire farmer who owned an estate in Wiltshire.

“Eventually I got a bit disillusioned with agriculture, and it was during this period that I bought a franchise to sell Spanish properties. I realised there was this thing called ‘selling’, and if you want to make money you have to be in sales. I later refused to join a friend in a financial company because I didn’t want to sell pensions and life insurance. But I left the farm, and became a manager to build a team for a financial service company. Now I was learning a different skill, and if you add value to people’s lives you don’t need to feel guilty about being well paid for it.

“That was over 20 years ago and allowed me the freedom to think about this life of adventure.” So what else is on the horizon? He concluded: “I have a great friend in London who is trying to raise funds to build a house for street kids in Mombasa. So we would like to do something on the Island in terms of raising money, and then go out to Mombasa with my son, who is a builder, to help build the place. I also give talks on the island to help charitable causes.

“Sometimes it is not about taking it is about giving. When I packed up football I became a referee to give something back to the game. I also like to go down to the Newclose Cricket ground in Newport to score or stand as an umpire. But I still feel proud of what I have done.”