Three of them were presented with their prestigious awards by the President of the RYA HRH The Pricess Royal following the Annual General Meeting in London. The other two were unable to make the trip. Altogether 58 awards were made in recognition of boating's most dedicated volunteers.
Pauline and Dave Nicholson of Bassenthwaite Sailing Club were selected by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel because of their outstanding contribution to the success of the sailing club.
"We were absolutely stunned when we were told of the RYA Volunteer Award, because our work at the club is just a labour of love. There must be many others in the club more deserving," said Dave.
The citation says: 'Pauline was Honorary Secretary for 11 years, supporting and administering business for five Commodores, and overseeing regatta week, two National School Sailing Association regattas and numerous major championships held at the club.
'She has also served as the club’s Safeguarding Officer for the past seven years.
'Dave has served as Vice Commodore, Commodore and Rear Commodore for six years, and brought his industrial management expertise to the roles, successfully overseeing the Bassweek Regatta and leading club activities.
'He introduced a remediation plan following severe ﬂooding in 2009 and 2015, and his hard work and attention to detail led to successful applications for ﬂood recovery grants. He has also been Chair of the Grounds & Jetties Committee and Public Relations Officer.
David Helme received his award because of his work to revitalise Delph Sailing Club's RYA Training Centre. He has been involved with the club since the 1980's and he is also Treasurer of the RYA's North West Volunteer Team.
The commemorative brochure for the presentation said: 'Particularly outstanding is his recent return from semi-retirement to his training role at DSC, at a point of crisis when the previous training officer was unable to continue.
He not only managed to retain DSC’s recognised training centre status but also instigated a successful training programme resulting in five new Dinghy Instructors being qualified.
'David has been instrumental in establishing and maintaining the high standard of sailing and racing for which DSC is recognised, and helped to secure the club’s future.
John Porter used to work for the glass-makers Pilkingtons and joined the sailing club which was established as part of the firm's recreational programme for employees.
The citation for the award focuses on his role leading weekly working groups maintaining Pilkington Sailing Club and its surroundings. John says it was very much of a surprise when he was told of his nomination for the award.
At first the sailing club was based at Carr Mill Dam but then moved to its present location on Eccleston Mere which was used as an emergency water supply for the glass-making plant in St Helens.
As well as sailing himself, John frequently volunteered to man the club safety boats. When he retired, John went on a working holiday with the National Trust and became one of their regular volunteers. He renewed his interest in the sailing club and set up some Wednesday sailing sessions for other retired members. On the first day there wasn't enough wind to go out so he suggested they get out a club tent that had been used at the 24 Hour Race in Southport and put away wet.
That was the first of many tasks the Wednesday crew took on as they realised how much needed to be done. They started to carry out regular maintenance work in the mornings and sailed in the afternoons. John encouraged his fellow sailor/volunteers to join for his National Trust working party as well and he has recruited many others who have visited Eccleston Mere.
As a member of Etherow Country Park Sailing Club in Stockport, Phil Howarth said it was 'quite a shock' when informed of his nomination marking more than 40 years of service to the club. During which time he has always been on the committee and highly active in organising events, shaping policies and keeping the clubhouse and grounds in good order.
He says his application of DIY skills stems from when he started sailing with his parents at East Lancashire Sailing Club, Rishton, close to his birthplace in Blackburn. "The clubhouse was flattened in a winter storm so my parents and I helped to rebuild it."
Phil also built from scratch or renovated most of the dinghies he has sailed since those early days. He has also taken a leading role in sailing organisations he has been associated with. For instance, in 1976 while a student he became Commodore of the National Polytechnic Sailing Association. When he moved to the Stockport area, Phil sailed at a number of local clubs, finally settling at Etherow Country Park Sailing Club.
He was involved in two major extensions to the club house; digging out the footings, constructing the internal walls and decorating. He has given his free time and DIY skills to the upkeep of the club. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that novice sailors receive quality instruction and feel welcome at the club, often lending his own dinghies to others.
Supportive of the club’s initiatives to encourage participation and raise funds for charity, he has organised innovative events both on and off the water. The citation says: "Phil’s consistent commitment to all aspects of ECPSC has been crucial to its success."