Our Nina crew member spotlight today shines on Matthew Wootton. Matthew’s parents Ian and Sue, and several close friends want to share with you some stories about their extraordinary son and close friend.
From Matthew’s Family:
Matthew was an extremely intelligent child, a deep thinker, and strongly independent. He is a natural and talented musician, singing in tune at 3 years old, writing, arranging and singing a new carol when he was 14, and becoming a brilliant cellist. (as well as a pianist and singer).
Matthew’s studies of Sociology, Music and Philosophy at university brought him into green campaigning after he attended the Earth Summit 2002 in Johannesburg as a delegate of the United Nations Association. He became the publications and external communications coordinator on the Green Party National Executive and in 2003-5 he rebranded the Green Party as the party of ‘Real Progress’, a move that triggered a resurgence of popularity for the party. He went on to make, and participate in, some TV documentaries as well as making appearances on TV news representing the Green Party. He then took a similar marketing role for a Digital Arts Charity in Lancaster, Lancashire, but after the withdrawal of arts funding (in favor of funds for the 2012 Olympics) he became self-employed and then decided to take the opportunity to realize his dream of travelling the world.
Travelling to USA by ship, he then spent 6 months travelling there, by train, bus, and (hybrid !) car, before travelling to Central America (where he stayed for months to learn Spanish) and then South America. As his goal was to get to know the real people, particularly the local and indigenous people, he stayed for a few months in each place, couch-surfing or in hostels, and sometimes (not always!) in very poor areas. Everywhere he went, he wrote about the issues faced by the poorer and indigenous populations, both now and in the past. He lived on very little money but survived by adapting to his surroundings (he was sometimes mistaken as being from a neighbouring South American country rather from Europe), making do with what he had. He travelled mostly by bus and boat. In Peru, staying on a farm, he was kicked by a horse he was feeding (he knew horses – he could ride and we had owned a horse for a while when he was young) He broke bones in his back and foot (which had to be pinned). Recovering from this, whilst living in a small, cheap flat, was difficult.
But from there, he took a container ship to Tahiti, and then became one of two crew of a small yacht, sailing to New Zealand – a journey that took some months.
He met many people in his journeys; here are some of the things they have said about him. They say more about him than we can……
Matthew was making his way home to England, to be here in time for Christmas, and to meet his one-year old nephew for the first time. We pray that he will still achieve this.
From Matthew’s friends:
“Matt is an amazing guy and friend who is able to inspire the world…… Your son is a wondrous, inspiring person. Thank you for raising someone so beautiful. Sending you hope from the US.”
“Matt has been an amazing friend and I am truly honoured to have had the privilege to have known him so well. I deeply admire Matt’s honesty, his desire to make the world a better place, his love for life and adventure, his witty sense of humour, and most of all his love for his friends and family. I know him as a friend, and an amazing friend he has been. He has brought added joy to my life and taught me a great deal on living a life of meaning and no regrets. To trust yourself and the world around you and to follow your inner voice. He has lived an amazing, admirable life and has touched so many of us abroad over his more recent years of travel. Thank you for helping raise such a beautiful, loving person.”
“I know Matt from his time in New York City……Matthew is one of the bravest, forward-thinking and forward-moving people I know.”
“I met him when we sailed from Panama to Colombia. I feel very lucky to know him as he is one of the greatest souls I have met during my whole life! He is a very brave soul so I am sure he is safe somewhere.”
“I met him on a sailboat from Panama to Columbia. He was super nice guy. Like me he lives for adventure and discovery.”
“When he was in Chile, he stayed with me and my sister in our flat in Santiago for a week or so. We loved to have him with us, he was such a kind and gently guy the time he was here, he even cooked for us and showed always warm and happy with what he was doing. I’m very glad and thankful to have met him and helped him to know a bit more about Chile, as he was such an inspiration for myself and certainly he still is.”
“I had the privilege of travelling with Matt while backpacking through New Zealand’s South Island. What a person. The adventure he took me on is something I will never forget. Matt never took a moment for granted or let an opportunity pass. Watching him take in a new place or speak to a stranger was something beautiful. He treated the places and people he encountered with insatiable curiosity, excitement and great respect. Matt travelled and lived with a passion and perseverance unlike any individual I have met.”
“Thoughtful, kind, respectful… he is a gentleman and a creative thinker and infinitely unique and interesting. I have never met anyone like him, and I know I never will. I just wanted to thank you and your wife for your part in raising such a good man.”