Robert Watson was chosen as a winner by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel in recognition of his lifetime commitment to UYC."The award came out of the blue," he said.

"There are a lot of people who have done a lot for the club over the years so it is not just a personal thing.

"The citation describes him: "Rob has been an active member of UYC for 39 years during which time he has been an enthusiastic participant in the sailing, social and management aspects that make it an enjoyable family-orientated club."

Rob started sailing by building a Mirror dinghy from a kit in the 1970's. Then he built an Enterprise before switching to keelboats.

During the past four decades he has been an active contestant, racing in a variety of boats. He has supported the promotion of competitive racing by volunteering regularly for Race Management duties, including Race Officer, Safety Officer and supporting roles, at both club and open events.

Like many members of UYC, Rob lives some distance away in a village between Darlington and Durham, spending three days at a time near UYC.

During his tenures as Secretary, Vice Commodore and Commodore, he helped UYC transform from a private members’ club to a CASC status company limited by guarantee with a sailing school which provides RYA OnBoard sessions for local schools and community groups.

The club has suffered from flooding over recent years so he has been deeply involved in the refinancing of the club and the purchase of a neighbouring area of land to protect its long-term sustainability. It is hoped a new clubhouse can be built on this higher ground.

Rob immediately joined the Flood Recovery Committee in a major role following the devastation of Storm Desmond in 2015.Having resigned as Honorary Secretary, Rob nevertheless continues to be involved in managing the transition to a new flood-resilient clubhouse, and UYC benefits from his eye for detail and accuracy as well as his invaluable advice.

RYA Director of Sport Development Alistair Dickson explains: “The RYA Volunteer Awards are all about celebrating the hard work and dedication of the many volunteers who put so much in to support our sport.