Alan was presented with the Emeritus Award in front of more than 110 members who tuned into the ceremony online on Wednesday 23 September.
Since the 1960s, Alan has been an exceptional advocate for the sport of boating for people both with and without disabilities. For nearly thirty years he served as the RYA’s Regional Racing Coach in the Thames Valley and was instrumental in setting up the RYA’s regional network, later serving on the RYA Council as Regional Chair.
As an instructor and coach, Alan set high standards throughout the region. Both Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb began their sailing careers at Queen Mary Sailing Club (QMSC) and went on to win gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.
In the 1990s Alan became the driving force behind the establishment of Sailability at QMSC and led the fundraising to provide boats and equipment. He promoted the benefits of sailing to local special needs schools and initiated links with inland waterway bodies. The club has gone on to provide hundreds of Sailability sessions each year, enabling children and adults who have a physical, sensory or learning disability to take to the water and enjoy the sailing experience. Alexandra Rickham, who won a Bronze Medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games, was introduced to sailing at the club.
Alan was instrumental in the 2015 RYA accreditation of Thames Sailability, which operates the river cruiser, Impossible Dream, from Desborough. The boat gives groups such as the Spelthorne MS Society, and students from local schools for those with severe learning difficulties, the opportunity to enjoy cruising on the Thames.
Over five decades Alan’s work as a volunteer has helped to enable both future Olympic and Paralympic medal-winners, and children and adults with disabilities who just enjoy boating, to thrive on the water. He has been a strong, visionary leader of the Sailability movement and of diversity in boating.
Alan said: "I'd like to thank the Alliance for considering me and sailing for this Emeritus Award. I'd also like to thank the RYA for nominating me. They've done such an excellent job in the development of young people in the sport of sailing.
"I think it's great to receive this award in the year that we celebrate 50 years of RYA Training. The scheme is recognised throughout the world and has been the basis for the great successes that we've had in UK sailing over the years."
RYA Regional Development Office Steve Mitchell said: “The work Alan has carried out over many decades, supporting sailing in the Thames Valley area and beyond, has influenced a vast number of people to start boating. His dedication and endless commitment to helping and supporting others is truly remarkable.”
RYA Sailability Manager Joff McGill added: "Alan has given so much time and energy over theyears, going the extra mile to get people on the water no matter what it takes."
Everyone at the Alliance and the RYA would like to extend their congratulations to Alan.
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Photo: Alan is presented with his award by QMSC Commodore Richard Steele.