The 2023 RYA Volunteer Awards were held on Friday 10 November at One Great George Street, with 81 accolades given this year in recognition of the outstanding dedication and commitment made by volunteers of all ages and from all corners of the UK.
Tony received an RYA Lifetime Commitment Award which recognises the exceptional long-term commitments made by individuals at the grassroots level of the sports and activities the RYA represents.
Tony has volunteered at Welsh Harp Sailing Club in Wembley since joining in 1972, and he has maintained a continuous, active presence on the committee. Always prepared to step in and assist, his list of roles includes Training Captain, Chief Instructor, Bar Manager, Bosun, Commodore and Treasurer. He is also Treasurer and a committee member for the Welsh Harp Sailing Association, the body that manages the reservoir. For the past decade he has volunteered at the Colne Valley Special Sailors Sailability group in Rickmansworth.
As well as managing the club and finances prudently, he is a gifted diplomat, natural leader who can easily negotiate tricky situations, and a clever Bosun. He currently manages the club’s fleet of 38 boats, as well as finding time to assist, train, teach, encourage, and support those learning to sail.
Tony takes his roles very seriously and supports the club’s Principal, encouraging current and prospective instructors, powerboat drivers and first aiders. He has fantastic communication skills and, with a particularly forward-thinking attitude, he puts a high value on building strong relationships.
Tony said of his award: "It was a wonderful surprise to find I had been nominated for this award. Receiving it from the Princess Royal was a real privilege, as was the opportunity meet so many other volunteers and share our diverse experiences over the years.”
RYA Director of Sport Development Rob Clark paid tribute to the enormous impact that volunteers have in sailing and boating communities.
“It’s always so inspiring to hear of the amazing work that is happening every day, up and down the country, by volunteers right at the heart of our sport,” Rob explained.
“Whether it’s encouraging newcomers to give it a try, looking after facilities so people can get afloat safely, running weekend racing, or fundraising for equipment so more people can be introduced to the joys of being on the water – there really is a rewarding role for everyone in our communities, from teenager to octogenarian!”
“Our sport relies so much on the goodwill and skills of volunteers at every level, without whom the opportunities to get involved in boating would be greatly reduced,” said RYA CEO Sara Sutcliffe MBE.
“They are very often the first point of contact for new participants across the nations and regions, and can help to motivate a lifetime’s interest, or inspire others to train for fulfilling careers across the marine industry.
“It’s so humbling to hear of the many examples of selfless commitment our award recipients have shown – in many cases spanning decades – and they represent many thousands more who give their time to support boating in whatever way, great or small. Our grateful thanks go to them all.”
Volunteers form the core of RYA and club initiatives, offering rewarding opportunities and assisting others to experience the water's numerous benefits.
With various volunteering options available, dedicating even a small amount of your time can create a significant impact. Join us and make a difference today.
Find out more about Welsh Harp Sailing Club, a friendly and welcoming sailing club run by and for its members, with a full range of dinghy sailing, windsurfing, racing and RYA training, offshore yachting, children’s and family sailing and a fantastic social programme.
CVSS makes sailing accessible, inexpensive and fun for people with disabilities of all ages. They do this using special boats and equipment and having a positive approach: "You want to sail - let's work out how you can do so safely."