Britain's Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Volunteer Awards were held this week at the RYA's AGM. Forty eight volunteers from across the country were recognised for their outstanding dedication and achievements in boating when they were presented with the awards by HRH The Princess Royal.
Francis Elkin award winner - RYA Volunteer Awards 2011
The awards were presented to volunteers from as far afield as Hayling Island to Loch Tummel in a prestigious awards ceremony held at One Great George Street, London.
'From training and boat maintenance to establishing and developing clubs, the RYA Volunteer Awards acknowledge the outstanding contributions, time and experience that these individuals have made for others to enjoy sailing and boating' explains RYA Sport Development Manager Jon White.
The RYA Volunteer Awards were divided into three categories; the RYA Awards, RYA Community Awards and the Francis Elkin award.
RYA Awards were presented to Chris Basten, Phillip Chorley, David Darling, Chris Edwards and joint winners Nina and George Sawyer, recognising their individual commitment and service to boating and the RYA.
The community awards, consisting of Lifetime Commitment, Outstanding Contribution and Youth, were presented to winners nominated by their sailing clubs and selected by the RYA Awards panel. HRH The Princess Royal presented a total of 29 Lifetime Commitment, 10 Outstanding Contribution awards and three Youth awards.
In the Youth category, recognising voluntary work carried out by young people, winner Robin Jones from the Lincoln and District Sailing Association, commented: 'I never expected to be given an award. I really like volunteering so it’s a really nice thing to happen. There are so many different skills you learn, you meet loads of lovely people and teaching people to sail is an extremely satisfying thing to do.'
Robin claimed his award having supported his club in delivering sailing sessions to children from local schools and giving up his spare time to take youngsters sailing, helping out with regattas and acting as safety crew all at a moment’s notice.
HRH The Princess Royal also presented the Francis Elkin Award to Hugh de Las Casas who’s work and dedication to the Woolverstone Project provides sailing opportunities and tuition for those with disabilities.
Hugh has not only invested his time instructing but has also become the project’s primary fundraiser successfully accessing funding which has helped the project to continue with its work. He has also introduced a very successful, structured youth training programme at Aldeburgh Yacht Club, increasing the number of young people taking part in courses at the club.
Hugh said: 'Yesterday’s award ceremony was a splendid occasion. Her Royal Highness mentioned in her speech the importance of passing skills on from generation to generation. I thought it significant that among the award winners was a coach who had assessed me for my Senior Instructor qualification and a young man in the under 25 category who I had taught to sail and is now teaching others. All of us have, at some time, contributed to sailing for people with disabilities.'
All the winners enjoyed a celebratory lunch and were presented with a commemorative medallion and certificate by HRH, The Princess Royal.
Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive concluded: 'The RYA is delighted to present these RYA Volunteer Awards in recognition of the enthusiasm, promotion of our sport and many years’ of dedication that all 48 winners have provided. They are an inspiration to us all and it is my pleasure to recognise and celebrate their sheer hard work and commitment through these awards.' (To watch video footage of the event click here).