Britain's Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Sailability National Conference and dinner was held on the 08th February 2014. Some 130 delegates from RYA Sailability groups across the country attended the largest ever RYA Sailability National Conference, where the winners of the RYA Sailability Volunteer Awards were announced.
Dennis Priebe with Richard Langford and Debbie Blachford - RYA Sailability National Conference 2014
The RYA awards recognise the priceless voluntary contribution by Sailability volunteers. They are awarded in four categories, Youth, Significant Contribution, Outstanding Contribution and Exceptional Contribution
The Sailability Youth Award was awarded to joint winners Rebecca Rayner and Ella Hargreaves from Frensham Pond Sailability, Farnham. Having completed their Duke of Edinburgh volunteer hours within the their first season, both girls have continued as regular and committed volunteers at Frensham and have become excellent role models to the young disabled sailors and ambassadors of Sailability.
The winner of the Significant Contribution Award was John Tate from Scaling Dam Sailing Club in North Yorkshire. John is the driving force for Sailability activity and continually works hard in his own time to promote the programme at Scaling Dam, encouraging as many people as possible to get out on the water.
The Outstanding Contribution Award went to Domenic Hall from CVSS in Rickmansworth. As a bosun he gives up his time to maintain dinghies, hoists, pontoons and walkways and fixes sails and seating. Dennis can be found at the club all day, four days a week.
The final award for Exceptional Contribution went to Dennis Priebe from Rudyard Sailability. 12 years ago, Dennis was responsible for the monumental task of relocating Rudyard Sailability to the other end of the Reservoir. Since then Dennis has transformed the site from a ‘shed’ to become a venue which is now accessible for all. In the past 18 months Dennis has raised over £400,000 towards the new building.
Dennis said 'I’m ecstatic to have been given this award. I’m even smiling and I’m supposed to be grumpy! I would like to thank all the volunteers who helped with this project who without, these awards l would not be possible.'
The dinner also welcomed guest speaker, Gerry Hughes, the first deaf yachtsman to sail single-handed around the world via the Five Great Capes, who shared his remarkable tale of his eight month voyage encompassing storms, technical failures and capsize .Gerry was presented the RYA Sailability Personal Endeavour Award on Surprise Surprise in December.
Debbie Blachford, RYA Sailability Manager said: 'It’s a pleasure to be able to present these awards, and every single volunteer who donates their time to RYA Sailability can be held responsible for the success it is today.
'Thank you to all the delegates who attended this year’s conference, we saw the highest turnout we’ve ever had. It’s wonderful to see so many people involved with Sailability coming together and being able to share all the latest advice and information.
Special thanks to Gallagher Heath for sponsoring the RYA Sailability National Conference.
For more information about RYA Sailability visit the RYA website.