Created: 24 Nov 2010 14:32
Updated: 26 Nov 2010 08:27

RYA volunteers were last week (Thursday 18 November) recognised for their outstanding achievements and dedication when they were presented with RYA Volunteer Awards by HRH The Princess Royal.The awards were presented to 44 volunteers from across the UK as far afield as Scotland to the Isle of Wight in a prestigious ceremony held at One Great George Street, London as part of the RYA's annual AGM.

"The RYA Awards and Community Awards acknowledge the importance of volunteers within the sailing and boating communities. They recognise the outstanding contributions, time, effort and experience that these individuals have made to making it possible for others to enjoy boating and sailing, from establishing clubs, committee participation, to boat maintenance and training." Jackie Bennetts, Volunteer Development Officer explains.

The Community Awards are divided into three categories recognising Lifetime Commitment, Outstanding Contribution and Youth.

In the Youth Category, four awards were presented recognising voluntary work carried out by young people specifically, presented four special youth awards. One of the winners was Samantha Green from Northampton Sea Cadets. Sam has encouraged young people onto the water enabling over 1000 training hours to be achieved and under her guidance the club has trained two new dinghy instructors.

Sam says "It feels such a great privilege to be part of the day and to be recognised along with the other volunteers.  The thing I love about my work is seeing people progressing with the sport whether it is young kids or instructors."

A total of 23 Lifetime Commitment and 12 Outstanding Contribution awards were also presented in this category whilst 3 RYA awards were presented to Hugh Henderson, Graham Knox and Roger Palmer.

A further two special awards were also presented by HRH The Princess Royal at ceremony; The Francis Elkin Award and the RYA Honorary Life Membership.

Winner of this year's Francis Elkin Award was Robert Harper who was awarded for his work as RYA Sailability Regional Organiser in Northern Ireland where he encouraged and supported many people with disabilities to go sailing.

Bob says "I must say it came as a shock. It is wonderful to realise that so many people are aware of the work that we are doing in Northern Ireland. In many ways I feel I am picking up this award for all the volunteers I have worked over the last 30 years."

This year the Honorary Life Membership of the RYA, the associations highest award, was awarded to Rod Carr OBE, previous Chief Executive of the RYA, for his extraordinary and unique contribution to the sport since he joined the organisation in 1981. From developing the UKs most successful Olympic Sailing Team to his work increasing awareness and participation of the sport as CEO, Rod has been a respectable ambassador for all aspects of sailing for last three decades.

Rod said "I feel immensely proud to receive my award. I have attended this ceremony for many years and have seen the great pleasure it gives others and I now have that feeling that myself. I feel really chuffed.

I belong to a sailing club and do my duties. When my children were younger I did my stint of teaching the youngsters to sail and it gives me a huge deal of satisfaction. It is all about continuity and growing the sport."

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 says "The RYA is delighted to make these awards in recognition of the enthusiasm, promotion of our sport and many years' contribution to the sailing scene that these volunteers have provided. The 44 RYA winners are an inspiration to us all and it is my pleasure to recognise and celebrate their hard work and dedication."