HRH The Princess Royal, President of the RYA, will present the RYA’s most prestigious awards to no fewer than 20 Midlands sailors later this month after they were revealed as 2017 RYA Volunteer Award winners.

The Midlands winners will receive one of three RYA Community Awards - Lifetime Commitment, Outstanding Contribution or Youth awards - at the RYA’s annual awards ceremony at One Great George Street, London on Friday 24 November.

The RYA Volunteer Awards are considered the ‘MBEs' of the sport, honouring people for their exceptional generosity and commitment to boating. The winners were nominated by their clubs and selected by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel.

The Midlands’ 2017 RYA Volunteer Award winners are…

Lifetime Commitment - individuals who have shown exceptional commitment and dedication to their club or organisation for at least 15 years

  • Arthur and Cheryl Allen (UK 29er Class Association)
  • Steve and Lynn Baker (South Staffordshire Sailing Club)
  • Margaret and Bill Boyson (Blithfield Sailing Club)
  • David & Margaret Burnham (Rudyard Lake Sailing Club)
  • Mary & David Harris (Himley Hall Sailing Club)
  • Bob Hopkins (Wanlip Sailing Club)
  • David Ingram (Earlswood Lakes Sailing Club)
  • John Knight (Northampton Sailability)
  • Sarah Read (Notts County SC)
  • Peter Smerdon (Heart of England Offshore Cruising Association)
  • Roger Tolman (Glossop SC)
Outstanding Contribution - individuals who have made a significant volunteer contribution either over a period of time or a ‘one-off’ effort

  • Mark Harden (Staunton Harold SC)
  • Tim Miles-Hayler (Notts County SC)
  • Jane Thorpe (Toddbrook SC)
Youth – individuals under 25 who have demonstrated a regular commitment and/or inspirational contribution over-and-above their own participation or achievement within the sport

  • Kamila Czartolomna (South Staffs SC)

Mark Harden, who, having previously served as Staunton Harold Secretary, Vice Commodore and Commodore, has over the past two years established the Staunton Harold Sailability Trust to develop more accessible opportunities for all at the club.

He said: “I’ve had the privilege to be involved with Sailiability since I took up sailing, it’s undoubtedly the most satisfying undertaking I’ve been involved with. I volunteer freely so don't expect anything in return. The satisfaction comes from helping out. I was very proud people valued my contribution to nominate me.”

Between them Margaret and Bill Boyson have made an immeasurable contribution to Blithfield SC since joining in 1984, Bill acting as Bosun for 17 years while Margaret has held pretty much every official club role over the longest period of time.

Margaret said: “Sailing has given us so much fun, challenge, companionship, purpose, satisfaction and modest achievement. We were amazed when we heard we had won this award. The club had already honoured us with honorary membership so we felt humble and undeserving of something so nationally special.”

Kamila, meanwhile, has barely been out of the local headlines since becoming the first girl in 10 years to win a national Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship title in 2014. In total she has won a record-breaking four Honda RYA Youth RIB trophies – claiming the 13-16 years title and the perpetual Champion of Clubs Trophy twice.

She said: “Sailing and powerboating have been very character building and have led me to meet so many great new people, also making me a more rounded and confident individual. They have helped me face challenges and learn new skills. Most importantly I really enjoy doing them and hope to be involved in the sport for life.”

This is what all the winners have to look forward to in London…