RYA Cymru Wales AGM 2024 Round Up

Five-year strategy & first Impact Award winners announced
02 Apr 24

A junior sailor smiling in a red Topper dinghy at Cardiff Sailing Centre with other small dinghies with colourful sails in the background.

RYA Cymru Wales was delighted to launch its vision for the future with the publication of a new five-year strategy at its Annual General Meeting.

The AGM took place on Saturday 30 March online and in-person at Sport Wales National Centre (Cardiff, South Wales), Plas Menai Outdoor Centre (Caernarfon, North Wales) and Neyland Yacht Club (Pembrokeshire, West Wales).

Hosted by the board of RYA Cymru Wales, attendees also included RYA members and representatives of Affiliated Clubs and Training Centres.

The AGM received and approved the RYA Cymru Wales Annual Report 2022-23 and the Accounts for the year ending 31 March 2023.

Achievements & opportunities

Presenting the achievements outlined in the Annual Report 2022-23, RYA Cymru Wales Chair Sian Reynolds said: “We continued to make fantastic progress thanks to the continued efforts and teamwork of invaluable volunteers and dedicated staff throughout Wales. It’s been inspiring to see so many of our clubs in Wales thriving despite continued challenges.”

Among the successes highlighted were performances outcomes from aspiring Olympian Micky Beckett, young yacht sailors Lou Boorman and Elin Jones and iQ foiler Catrin Williams; Gresford SC becoming an RYA Club of the Year finalist and Merthyr Tydfil SC’s refurbished clubhouse; activities including instructor training, youth and junior events and squads; and the purchase of eight multi-stacking trailers available for free hire to reduce travel costs and environmental impact.

Sian added: “As I look back on the time covered by this annual report, it’s a cause of frustration to have to exclude some further achievements across our sailing and boating community that have happened since the year ending March 2023. The annual report doesn’t capture the additional fantastic achievements of our staff, volunteers and clubs however this is illustrative of the genuine momentum we have achieved – we’ll have to wait for the next annual report ending March 2024 to really showcase the continued tremendous work of our staff, volunteers, clubs and Board.”

The AGM also noted emerging disciplines such as foiling and winging, and the boom in gateway sports such as paddleboarding, creating new experiences and opportunities for people to enjoy getting on the water and closer to watersports.

Thanks were given to Ruth Iliffe for her role in the development of the sport in Wales and to partners including Sport Wales, Plas Menai National Outdoor Centre and Plas Heli National Sailing Academy, and the Reardon Smith Nautical Trust.

The meeting then saw the official launch of the RYA Cymru Wales strategy for 2024-2029: Together on our Waters, and the announcement of the first Impact Award winners.

Two giant yellow and and blue paddle boards on the water with lots of people having fun getting on them or on the beach spectating on a sunny day at Dale.

Gyda’n Gilydd ar ein Dyfroedd - Together on our Waters

Launching the new strategy, RYA Cymru Wales Interim CEO James Stuart said:There is a deliberately strong relationship with UK but equally deliberate is that this strategy is about Wales and what it means to us here. It’s important to dwell on the idea of welcome – croeso - because the first step of anybody’s journey into our sport or indeed staying in our sport is making people feel they belong and want to come back.

“What’s at the heart of this strategy is a community that loves the water and wants to spend time getting out on it, and wants to share that experience with others and look after those very waters – so working towards being together on our waters is the central theme that drives it and if we get it right we will become a connected, inspired and inclusive sailing and boating community.”

James added that the framework for the strategy would be a virtuous cycle of encouraging people to get on the water, stay on the water and give back: “This cycle already exists so it’s not about imposing something new but about accelerating what is there. This will shape our work for the future and we’re looking forward to working with everyone in Welsh sailing and boating and with our partners to bring it to life.”

Welcoming the new strategy, AGM attendee Des George from Dovey YC summed up that he felt it was “straight from the heart, straightforward and pragmatic”, adding: “It really aligns with what we’re trying to do at our club and I think it’s great.”

View the RYA Cymru Wales strategy: Gyda’n Gilydd ar ein Dyfroedd - Together on our Waters.

RYA Cymru Wales Impact Awards

Announcing the first-ever RYA Cymru Wales Impact Awards, CEO James Stuart said the aim was to recognise not only volunteers but also those who may currently sit outside the remit of existing awards – the staff and professionals who likewise deliver a huge amount of activity on the water.

He said: “These awards are about recognising those who make a difference, alongside the awards that are already there, and the aim is to reach every corner of our sports, whether that’s someone helping with a comment on a planning application for a wind farm or an instructor.

“The key criteria is ‘how does this individual or organisation stand out from their peer group?’ and what has been fantastic to see is the quality of nominations: there are some truly staggering people doing some really amazing things across the whole of Wales.”

Left to right, RYA CW Performance Manager Sarah McGovern presenting an RYA CW Impact Award to Jamie Johnson at Plas Menai, and in a separate picture on the right, Freya Terry also with an RYA Impact Award.

The first two Impact Award recipients to be revealed were RYA instructor and trainer Jamie Johnson, who until recently was chief instructor at Plas Menai, and Freya Terry, an instructor at Pembrokeshore Performance Sailing Academy.

James added: “Jamie has been a stalwart of the National Outdoor Centre and he has not only given four decades worth of service but has had a cascade of impact from that service, inspiring people from their very first experiences right the way through to some of the most senior instructors and trainers across the country.”

For Freya, he said it was her customer service which stood out from the powerful testimony submitted by PPSA: “The consistent feedback in Freya’s work setting was that she did do just what these awards are about: going above and beyond and really thinking carefully about the people in front of her and how to help them on the journey they wanted to go on.”

RYA Cymru Wales looks forward to sharing Jamie and Freya’s stories, and to announcing future Impact Award recipients, over the coming weeks. The awards will be a rolling programme with recipients approved by the RYA Cymru Wales board at least four times a year.

Do you know someone who makes a difference helping people get afloat in Wales? Find out more and nominate for our RYA Cymru Wales Impact Awards.