The RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year Award 2021, supported by Gallagher, has recognised Cowes Sailability Club, Isle of Wight, with a Certificate of Commendation for the club’s inspiring “Ahoy There” initiative, which helped to relieve feelings of isolation and loneliness for the club’s members and volunteers during the Covid-19 lockdown.
At the beginning of Lockdown, Cowes Sailability Club, a registered charity which provides sailing to children and adults with physical and learning difficulties, realised that many of its own volunteers and members - a large proportion of whom have disabilities or underlying medical conditions - were identified as high-risk criteria for contracting coronavirus and had to stay home and self-isolate.
The ‘Ahoy There’ initiative sought to provide emotional support to those who may have been feeling vulnerable during this difficult time, as a result of self-isolating or living alone, through a simple system of talking. Club volunteers telephoned any member or volunteer who requested a call, to lift their spirits and help relieve feelings of isolation and loneliness. In total, the Ahoy There initiative conducted over an impressive 100 telephone conversations.
Cowes Sailability Club Commodore, Judy Wyatt said: “We are all absolutely thrilled to have received a Special Commendation from the RYA, in recognition of the support that we provided for members during the COVID-19 lockdown. The Ahoy There programme was such a simple thing, but it really helped people when they were feeling most lonely. I would like to thank Trish, Kathryn and all the volunteers who took care to make sure that the club’s many vulnerable members had someone to talk to, at a very difficult and worrying time.”
Stuart Manton is one of the people who appreciated Cowes Sailability Club’s support during the lockdown. A club member since 2009, he lives alone in the west of the Isle of Wight and has a visual impairment. Stuart said: “You don’t realise the value of contact with other people until it is taken away. I’m normally a cup half full person, but there were definitely times when I felt quite low, so I really valued the support I received from Cowes Sailability Club. Every week, Chris, one of the club’s volunteers, gave me a ring for a chat and it was nice to be able to talk about all sorts of things, not just sailing. I found the conversations very supportive, especially at the beginning of the lockdown when everything felt very uncertain.”
The Award recognises the outstanding achievements of sailing clubs across the UK and promotes the hard work and dedication that goes into running a successful club – a feat made even more challenging this year with Covid-19 restrictions to contend with.
Cowes Sailability Club Volunteers Toby (L) Paul (R) celebrate with a 'thumbs up'.
Rob Peake, group editor of Sailing Today with Yachts & Yachting, said: “The Club of the Year Award is unique in that it recognises the hard work that goes on behind the scenes by volunteers to make sailing clubs great, and to encourage more people into our sport.”
Read more about the RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year Award 2021, supported by Gallagher, here.