In October, Jim Hutton and his wife Sally moved into their 28th house. Working in the Royal Navy and as a Royal Marine for 42 years has involved a lot of travel. But the routine of packing boxes and waving goodbye to the community they’d grown to know every 18 months to two years has come to a halt. The pair now calls five acres in Yass home after living in Sydney for most of their Australian adventure. The UK couple decided to make a tree change when Mr Hutton was posted to Canberra.

“Being in the Royal Navy/a Royal Marine meant we always lived by the sea, but we always loved the country. We have been coming to Yass for several years through Remount, which is the not-for-profit equine charity run by Ben and Marina Maguire at Bowning. They use horses to help servicemen and women and emergency service personnel who have experienced trauma. So we knew the area and a lot of locals through Remount, and it seemed natural to look at Yass to live,” Mr Hutton said.

Jim Hutton – Captain Jim Hutton and wife Sally at Jim’s Graduation from the Defence Strategic Studies Course in December 2019

Life in the Royal Navy started in the UK at the age of 17 for Mr Hutton. He then transferred to the Royal Marines for the next 34 years until he was loaned to the Royal Australian Navy.

Mr Hutton doesn’t carry the hard shell many might imagine is necessary to have in the Navy and Marines. He is friendly, approachable and naturally leans towards helping others. 1 Life Coaching is Mr Hutton’s five-year-old business that empowers people to be the best they can personally and in business.

“I know there is considerable power in coaching and unlocking things in people’s lives, stopping them from being as effective and efficient as they can be,” he said.

In between working part-time as a leadership coach for the Australian Royal Navy and taking care of his other clients, Mr Hutton is also supporting local businesses as the new Yass Valley Business Chamber vice president. Mr Hutton started attending the chamber’s business breakfasts last year. Then when former chamber president Andrew Curlewis asked if he would join the committee, Mr Hutton realised there was value to add from his near 60-year-old wisdom.

“I decided I could be a foil to Glenn (Wynn, new chamber president), who is younger but has a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm. Between him and I, we could help the committee and service the Yass Valley business community better,” he said.

Mr Hutton uses his own experience as a leader and experience of watching others lead to upskill others, a tool he hopes to lend to the chamber.

“In the military, you are dealing with lives, and in business, you are dealing with money, but the strains and stresses are the same. Losing a contract can reduce you to tears like losing a bloke in battle. They are different but the stresses are the same. I try to share my learning to help others deal with the trials and tribulations of navigating life or navigating others through life,” he said.

It is people like Mr Hutton who are helping the chamber to reflect the diversity of businesses in the Yass Valley. Fortuitously, the chamber’s committee currently comprises three male and female business owners.

“We have sole traders and people who employ people, so whatever business you run, there should be someone like-minded on the committee,” Mr Hutton said.

In May, the chamber developed its strategy for the next 12 months, defining its vision, purpose and priorities.

“Our vision is to have a thriving business community that is great for locals and attracts people to Yass as a destination. Our priorities are around collaboration between businesses, providing support to businesses, promoting Yass and growing the business community,” Mr Hutton said.

Committee members like Mr Hutton also recognise that when it comes to business, not one size fits all and post-COVID-19 the chamber plans to expand its business breakfasts to afternoon/evening meetings to enable all business owners to attend.

Mr Hutton also envisages the chamber acting as a lobby for members.

“There is power in the group rather than individuals. If several businesses are sharing the same issue, then I’d like to see the chamber act as a spokesperson to target an organisation or the council,” he said.

Jim Hutton talks about his new role as Vice President of Yass Valley Business Chamber with Chamber member & Times Editor Jasmin Jones and daughter Rosella