Ken Southall from Fiddlers Ferry Sailing Club was very embarrased when he learned that he was to be presented with a RYA Lifetime Award.
Ken Southall and HRH the Princess Royal
'I am one of those people who like to be out of earshot, in the background. I was rather embarassed and taken aback,' he said.
On the day, though he felt honoured when he received the honour from HRH the Princess Royal, President of the RYA a
Ken was nominated for his award by members of Fiddlers Ferry Sailing Club and was selected as a winner by the Awards panel for quietly working behind the scenes for the benefit of the club and its members,always willing to go the extra mile for others.
His quiet manner, organisational skills and infectious enthusiasm has created the supportive environment the younger members need to excel and enjoy sailing.
As the club is located in fiercely tidal waters, a lot of logistical effort is needed, even before training commences and Ken has been instrumental in getting the juniors ‘off-site’ to train in calmer waters.
One occasion he recalls was when the club was asked, as a goodwill gesture, to help with a group of young offenders who were on day release. He took them to the River Weaver and set them off in Toppers (robust single handed dinghies). He chose a quiet stretch of water and they did so well, he suggested they go to a slightly more challenging area further downstream. Again they performed well so he chose an even more open area. 'They were shopping and hollering all the way round,' said Ken. 'They didn't have a single capsize among them and afterwards, one cam up to me and said 'that was better than drugs'.'
Many of the young people Ken has trained regularly compete in the club’s senior race series and win trophies against very experienced adults. Others have gone on to obtain RYA qualifications to seek a career in sailing, two joining the Navy and many doing well in competitive sailing away from the club.
When not sail training, Ken cheerfully undertakes race officer duties and instructs crews and helms in Officer of the Day duties, responsibilities and race rules.
In his role as Boatswain he dedicates his time to working on the boats the club receives as ‘hand me downs’, making them serviceable and available to young members who wouldn’t otherwise have access to boats.