The region’s winners will receive one of four RYA Awards - Lifetime Commitment, Outstanding Contribution, Family award and Endeavour award - at the RYA’s annual awards ceremony in 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 London and South East 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

  • Andy Bennett, Littleton SC
  • Dick Eager, Scouts West Sussex RYA Sea School
  • David Hawkins, Frensham Pond SC
  • Jean Keating, Upper Thames SC
  • Brian and Christine Williams, North London Sailing Association

Outstanding Contribution - individuals who have made a significant volunteer contribution either over a period of time or a ‘one-off’ effort

  • Janice Beaumont, Croydon SC
  • Alison Benz, Queen Mary SC
  • Zalan Paksy and Jane Glanida, Varne Boat Club

Award for Endeavour

  • Greig City Academy, Haringey, North London

Family Award - presented to a family group deserving of recognition for the impact they have made both as individuals and collectively.

  • The Videlo family from Frensham Pond SC.

Three years ago, thanks to the foresight and dedication of a remarkable teacher, Jon Holt, the Greig City Academy and its students set their sights on competing in the 2016 J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race and the 2017 RORC Rolex Fastnet Race. After raising funds to purchase and restore ex-Admiral’s Cup yacht Saramouche, many students gaining RYA qualifications, over 120 students sailing on Saramouche, and lots of training in smaller boats including the Cowes Etchells fleet, Project Saramouche became the first state school to complete the Fastnet.

Jon said: “This award is a reflection on the remarkable resilience of our young sailors who have overcome every perceived barrier in the sport to succeed at not only sailing itself but also in racing. To get recognition of this by the RYA is fantastic.”

Eleven members of the Videlo family were named in their nomination by Frensham Pond SC. The family’s continuous 55 years of active contribution to Frensham Pond is exceptional and inspirational, not only because it spans three generations, but also because it exemplifies an enthusiasm for dinghy sailing and the willingness to volunteer on which all successful clubs are built.

The family said: “It was a great surprise and honour to have been nominated for such a prestigious award. Our only regret is that our father, Donald, isn’t alive today to join us in receiving the award. It was his determination and passion for the sport of dinghy sailing that set us off on this lifetime’s journey. We owe him and (mother) Mo a huge debt of gratitude for all the help and support they have given us.”

Brian and Christine Williams said of their Lifetime Commitment selection: “It has been very rewarding to see that our efforts over the years, both within North London Sailing Association and through our sister charity organisation, the North London Youth Sailing Trust, have helped to keep sailing available without high cost for young people and adults in inner London. Our Brightlingsea Training Centre has enabled our NLSA members and youth and school groups and other sailing groups from inland waters to develop further by experiencing coastal sailing.”

On hearing of her Outstanding Contribution award Alison Benz said: “I was very surprised when I heard that I had been nominated for this award, as I have always been part of a team at Queen Mary Sailing Club. I have been supported by excellent leaders from the staff team and the club council, who have really helped to develop our youth sailing programme. The youth sailors and their parents are a fantastic group, and it has been great fun to work with them. I am extremely grateful to the club for nominating me, and I am really looking forward to the award ceremony.”

You can see video of last year’s awards here