RYA Volunteer Award winners announced

Forty four volunteers are being celebrated across the UK for their exceptional dedication to boating.

Traditionally taking place at an awards ceremony in London, the RYA Volunteer Awards recognise and say ‘thank you’ to volunteers who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport with recipients nominated by their sailing clubs, class associations and members of the boating community.

The RYA Volunteer Awards are divided into four categories: RYA Awards, RYA Community Awards, The Francis Elkin Award and new for 2020 the RYA Honor Preston Award. This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, some winners will be presented with their awards at small presentations held at their sailing venues whilst others receive them from the safety of their homes. 

RYA Community Awards

The RYA Community Awards are given across three categories: Lifetime Commitment, Outstanding Contribution and Youth and are presented to outstanding individuals for their commitment and services to boating at club or grassroots level. 

One winner to be awarded a Lifetime Commitment Award for almost 40 years of volunteering is Anthony Forster from Shotwick Lake Sailing. Forster served as commodore for 20 years and has been Training Principal since 1992, working tirelessly on the club’s behalf. 

Forster says: “It’s pleasing to know that my efforts over the last 37 years have been appreciated and recognised and I feel honoured to have received this award. My time on the committee, through many good times and some bad, has given me great satisfaction, as has knowing that I’ve helped to develop the club as a successful, family friendly place where people of all abilities are welcome”.

Kate Pounder (23) received a Youth Award for going above and beyond in her role as an Instructor at Ballyholme Yacht Club. She assists with driving RIBS, providing rescue cover, transferring boats across the yard or laying racing marks, consistently giving her time and enthusiasm for the good of the club and its members. 

“When I realised I had won an award I felt completely overjoyed and surprised,” says Pounder. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed helping out at my home club and the more I got involved the better I felt about myself and the way others engaged with me. Sailing at Ballyholme is a real community and thrives on people getting actively involved and I wanted to be part of that”.

Francis Elkin Award

Leslie Downing has been recognised with the Francis Elkin Award, presented each year in recognition of a significant contribution in time, effort and personal endeavour to enable people with disabilities to become involved in sailing.

For over 15 years, Downing has made a remarkable contribution to the Woolverstone Project, being described as the ‘lynchpin holding everything together’. In this time she’s had many roles including Senior Instructor, Trustee, DBS Officer, buddy sailor, organiser and general volunteer as well as  being an ‘invaluable mentor and friend to everyone at the club’.

She says: “I feel honoured and somewhat embarrassed to have received this award which I happily feel I should share with all the Woolverstone Project volunteers, many of whom are far more deserving of it than I am. Volunteering with the Project plays a big part in my life, every week I enjoy the company of the sailors, carers and all the volunteers and seeing them share my joy and passion for sailing”.

RYA Honor Preston Award 2020

Barbara Darling, Honor Preston Award winner

New for 2020, the RYA Honor Preston Award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution in time, effort and personal endeavour to increase the inclusivity of boating, in particular female participation.  

The very first winner of this award is Barbara Darling from Ripon Sailing Club and the National School Sailing Association. Darling sadly passed away shortly before the news of the award could be passed on to her.

Darling’s involvement in helping deliver sailing programmes across a wide range of demographic groups stemmed from her interest in people and her passionate belief that everyone deserved a helping hand and the opportunity to flourish regardless of personal circumstance. Her family accepts the award on her behalf in celebration of her achievement and lasting legacy. 

RYA Awards

The RYA Awards recognise commitment and services to boating and the RYA. John Horwell, Jim McNaughton and Cynthia Robinson have all been recognised at a National level and Nadina Lincoln, Ewan Macpherson and Lindsay Tosh all received regional awards.

Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive says: “This year more than ever before, we have seen our club volunteers come together and work tirelessly to ensure members can continue to sail. The generosity and dedication of each of the RYA Volunteer Award recipients is simply outstanding and it’s a pleasure to be able to recognise these winners through this award”.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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