The Award is in recognition of his commitment to helping people with disabilities become involved with sailing.
Chris Williams OBE has been nominated for the RYA’s Francis
Elkin Award, which is presented each year to an individual who has made a
significant contribution in time, effort and personal endeavour to enable
people with disabilities to become involved in sailing.
Chris has been selected
as a winner by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel. He will receive his award at the
organisation’s annual awards ceremony in London on 24 November.
is the founder and Chairman of the Gwennili Trust, a voluntary organisation
which has been providing offshore crewing opportunities for people of all ages
with disabilities since 1995. He has invested huge amounts of his own time and
money in encouraging organisations to take advantage of the trust’s facilities
and supporting UK-wide events, and is a very active fundraiser for the trust.
principled and dedicated approach over 22 years has streamlined the
organisation to one that keeps overheads to a minimum, charters only Maritime
Coastguard Agency coded yachts, employs commercially endorsed Offshore
Yachtmasters as Skippers, and reflects best practice. Over the past four years
Chris has fostered a close working relationship between the trust and the Ro-Ro
Sailing Project, to the benefit of both organisations.
Chris’s leadership, the Trust has contributed to training disabled sailors for
several high-profile sailing events in recent years, including transatlantic
races, the Fastnet and Cowes Week. It participates in the Round the Island Race
annually, and a catamaran chartered by Gwennili with a disabled crew, including
one sailor in a wheelchair, won its class in 2016.
to Chris’ inspiration and hard work the trust has provided offshore yachting
for 5,320 clients, of whom 807 were wheelchair users, and enabled the
qualification of ten RYA Yachtmasters, 40 Day Skippers and 55 Competent Crew,
both non-disabled and disabled.
The effect of this achievement has been immense – sailors often
feedback how much they have been inspired and uplifted, and their expectations
transformed by the opportunity to take a full part in sailing an offshore yacht.
Chris said of his win “The Gwennili Trust is thrilled and
honoured to receive this prestigious Award following 22 years of providing off
shore sailing to so many people with disabilities. We are entirely voluntary."
Chris will hand over to his
successor in early 2018.