Dedicated Bob named in King’s Birthday Honours list
17 June 2023
Bob Harper, a dedicated sailing volunteer for more than 20 years, is among those named in the King’s Birthday Honours list.
He was awarded an MBE for services to sailing for people with disabilities in Northern Ireland and is one of more than 100 people on the list – the first named by King Charles.
Bob, who is from Carrickfergus, took up the role of RYA Sailability Co-Ordinator 2003 and over eighteen years worked with clubs and centres all over the region.
Under his tenure, three dedicated Sailability clubs were set up and five accredited centres. The clubs and centres bring the joy of sailing to disabled and disadvantaged people right across Northern Ireland.
Bob has always been an advocate for disabled sailing, helping to create and maximise opportunities for sailors, as well as supporting many initiatives and activities.
He helped to establish Belfast Lough Sailability, which has given hundreds of adults and children with any form of disability the opportunity to take up the sport and learn the skill of sailing.
Bob is also a keen author and illustrator and has written about his adventures sailing around the world with wife, Christine.
Greg Yarnall, Chief Executive Officer of RYA Northern Ireland, congratulated Bob, saying: “I am delighted that Bob has been recognised with an MBE for all of the hard work he has done for our sport. His enthusiasm is a shining example of all that is good about sailing and our dedicated volunteers.
“Over the years Bob has played a huge role in helping the Sailabilty community grow from strength to strength in Northern Ireland. As a result of his hard work, hundreds of people have been able to enjoy sailing, regardless of their ability or their background.”
Commenting on his recognition, Bob says: “It’s a bit surreal, I’m going to have to buy a suit! I have lots of people calling and the what’s apps are flying. It’s just great to be able to look back on all of the friends we have made and I am delighted that the organisation for disabled sailing has been recognised.
“My initial thoughts when I found out about it were of the many, many volunteers who supported me. This is the recognition of the work that countless volunteers have done over the years – without them, none of it could have happened. I was just the figure head for the whole thing.
I didn’t start sailing until I was in late 30s and I was so enthusiastic I just wanted other people to enjoy it and I am delighted that I have had the opportunity to do all of this.”