Boats tied up on the side of a lake

RYA Volunteer Awards

Celebrating the exceptional commitment and achievements of volunteers

The annual RYA Volunteer Awards recognise all those who have made a difference in helping others get on the water, contributing to the sport across the UK.

Whether it's mowing the lawn, making the tea, fixing boats, helming the safety boat, running events or just getting stuck in wherever needed- it all counts. The awards cover a number of categories, not only rewarding longstanding volunteers but also families, committed youngsters and most importantly, those that have had an impact.

The 2023 awards were presented on Friday 10 November. Find out more about the recipients.  

candid shot of volunteer repairing mast with electric drill
posed shot a volunteer smiling as the help open a lock for a canal boat
candid shot of volunteer writing in ledger
mid shot a of a smiling volunteer on a motorised rib

The RYA Volunteer Awards are divided into five categories:

Community Awards

Presented to individuals for their commitment and services to boating at club or grassroots level and are awarded across three categories:

  • Lifetime Commitment
  • Outstanding Contribution
  • Young Volunteer

Francis Elkin Award

Presented to an individual who has enabled people with disabilities to become involved in sailing.

Honor Preston Award

Presented to an individual who has worked towards increasing the inclusivity of boating, in particular female participation.

Family Award

Presented to a family group deserving of recognition for the impact they have made both as individuals and a family.

RYA Awards

Awarded for commitment and services to boating and the RYA at a National level.

Awarded for commitment and services to boating and the RYA at a Regional level.



Award winner testimonials

Debbie Kirkpatrick profile pic

Debbie Kirkpatrick - Outstanding Contribution

East Antrim Boat Club

"I started volunteering at the club as I wanted to give back to a club and sport that has shaped so much of who I am and the experiences that I have had. I wanted to create opportunities for young people to get into racing and develop my club as a recognised club for developing sailors. I now enjoy being part of the community at the club, and the opportunities that it holds for myself and family to be part of sailing as a lifelong sport."

profile picture of Bill Kenyon

Bill Kenyon - Lifetime Commitment                      

Budworth Sailing Club

"I enjoy the camaraderie and sense of achievement that my personal input has had. It is good to know that, with others, we have safeguarded the future of Budworth Sailing Club so that people can enjoy it as I have done over the past 40 years."

Let us answer any questions you have about getting involved