Club Development Blog - February 2019

08 Feb 19

Phil Braden’s all-too-short fight to transform the lives of people in Wales through the power of boating.

Remembering RYA Cymru Wales CEO Phil Braden with guest writers, Phil Tilley from All Afloat Wales and Ruth Brown from Llandudno Sailing Club.

Phil Braden, chief executive of RYA Cymru Wales, passed away all too soon on the 31 January, but during his short time in charge of boating in Wales he has left a lasting legacy.

Phil was appointed Chief Executive of RYA Cymru Wales in February 2016. He had chosen to retire from a highly demanding global career in telecommunications and dedicate more time to family and his passions - sailing, film production and technology.

He was commodore of Llandudno sailing club and as the new CEO he could set out to make sailing within Wales more appealing and available to everyone.

He grasped that the long-term future of the sport needed addressing at grass roots level, that sailing had the power to change lives and offer new opportunities to people who may not normally have considered it as a sport for them

The foundation of All Afloat as a Welsh charity serves as a great example of who Phil was and how he operated.

Phil appreciated the value of RYA OnBoard and how it could be a springboard to get young people from disadvantaged backgrounds involved in the sport, but the budget to really roll this out across Wales was under pressure.

Grant funding for this activity from Sport Wales was forecast to be reduced and he wanted to make sure something was set up that was for all of Wales and lasted many years.

He was quick to realise that external corporate funding was required if his vision for grassroots sailing across Wales was to be realised.

He knew from his business life that large companies had funding for socially responsible projects, but these funds would not go direct to a governing body.

The answer was to set up a charitable trust and run that alongside the RYA CW. In 2017 he registered the charity in parallel with supporting a number of pilot projects.

By the end of 2017 you could see Phil’s skills come to the fore when he connected his technology background, his appreciation of high-quality media production, his motivating get-on-and-do-it approach to create an attractive, content rich website which told a compelling story.

Having built the foundation, he set off in pursuit of funding. Nothing was going to stop him and he became very adept at filling out grant forms and pitching the message.

He was fortunate to see some of his pursuit of funding come to fruition in January this year and though he passed away all too soon, it was in the knowledge that he had secured nearly £40K for projects across Wales and in particular the rejuvenation of Rhyl on which more will follow.

Phil, we pledge to continue what you started and transform the lives of many people in Wales through the power of boating.

From a fellow trustee who knew him for too short a time.

Phil Tilley.

And from Llandudno Sailing Club.

Phil joined the sailing Club in early 2000 and a couple of years later he was persuaded to join the Management Committee. What a good move that was! Straightaway he got totally involved and within a short amount of time he produced a Business plan as part of grant applications for money so that we could extend the club facilities.

He had put this together whilst on his regular flights back and forth between the UK and Hong Kong and it was during this time that he lived on his boat when in Hong Kong. He used to recall sitting out some rather stormy weather on his boat!

As a club we secured money from a variety of sources and started work on the balcony, office, training room and equipment store. Phil became our Project Manager and despite frequently flying off half way round the world he ensured that the project reached a successful conclusion.

Many a barbeque has been enjoyed on that balcony since and Phil was always the first to offer his culinary services.

Some years ago on a Sunday morning in early August ,when we were hosting the M.G. car registration, he volunteered to cook the bacon baps which I think he might have regretted, as that year they devoured nearly 120 baps.

Phil became Rear Commodore in 2012 and Vice Commodore in 2014.

Two years later he took over as our Commodore and it was during this time that he finally gave up his business travels which meant he was much closer to home and able to spend more relaxing times at the club. 

Ruth Brown secretary of LSC for over 20 years worked closely with Phil as his Secretary and admired his experience, common sense, dedication and ambition; he will be sorely missed both on and off the water by the entire club.