The presentation was at the annual ceremony (11 November) at the magnificent Grade II listed ‘One Great George Street’ in central London. Celebrating both long-standing and younger volunteers, the awards recognise all those who have contributed to the sport and made an impact in their communities.
Chris, Carolyn and Jazz Turner (pictured above) from Seaford in East Sussex received the RYA Family Award, which is presented to a family group deserving of recognition for the impact they have made both as individuals and collectively as a family.
Chris and Carolyn have been members of Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club (NSSC) since their teens. Carolyn ran hugely successful cadet evenings for eight years as Cadet Commodore. A former GP, she also ran first aid courses for the club.
Chris has served as Vice-Commodore and Commodore. He was also the Powerboat Bosun for ten years, spending several hours each week ensuring RIBs, the committee boat and equipment were ready for use; he continues to keep a tool bag ready in the car!
Jazz started sailing at the age of 13 and has faced a number of challenges. At 18 she was diagnosed with a progressive, physically limiting condition. Having sailed a Laser and a Fireball, and built her own Farr 3.7 from scratch, she describes sailing as “giving me a family” and “a community in which I am accepted”.
Chris and Carolyn effectively adopted Jazz about five years ago, giving her a loving home and the support to continue her sailing. Jazz became an experienced sailor and Dinghy Instructor, rising up through the Laser squad and later helming and competing at the World Championships in the Fireball fleet. In 2018, with the help of RYA Sailability, she started sailing the 2.4mR and rapidly gained respect from the fleet, competing at Kiel Week and the World Championships in Genoa.
In 2019 Jazz proposed that the club become a Sailability centre and, with the support of Chris and Carolyn, old boats donated by Tideway Sailability, and an RYA foundation grant for a hoist, Newhaven and Seaford Sailability (NSS) was born. Today it is going from strength to strength and the family works tirelessly to help disabled people discover the same freedom Jazz has enjoyed. Every week Chris, Carolyn and Jazz give disabled adults and children the chance to experience the joy of sailing, with Jazz’s dynamic enthusiasm leading the way.
Commenting on receiving the award, Carolyn said: "It was a bit surreal, as you don’t think you’ve done anything to deserve it. It’s just what you do and what you enjoy, so it was nice to be recognised. A particular highlight of the day was seeing just how many volunteers are involved in the sport, and that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Seeing that there are so many people involved and that they’ve been recognised has been really nice to see.”
Chris added: “It was a very nice surprise and honour to receive the award from Princess Anne, and we hope to continue running Sailability and support the club for as long as we can.”
You can see more of the family in the video of the awards
A Regional Award was presented to Helen Hofmann from Canterbury.
Helen has been involved in many clubs in the London and South East region in a variety of roles and has been instrumental in setting up multiple RYA training centres. She also helped establish the Dover Boat Shed, which encourages vulnerable adults to meet on a boat to offer mutual support. She attended the RYA Participation and Membership Committee for four years, helping to shape national initiatives, and, as Chair of the East Kent Yachting Association, she enabled local clubs and club committee members to have wider involvement with RYA programmes.
She served four years as Chair of the RYA London and SE Regional Committee, substantially increasing the number of RYA volunteers in the region and further engaging RYA clubs and centres.
Helen’s strength of character and dogged determination are hidden behind a soft spoken and quiet, unassuming manner. She engages with those around her in a positive and supportive style and builds teams and committees with ease, encouraging them to achieve excellence in performance.
Helen said of her award: “It was a tremendous honour to meet HRH The Princess Royal and be recognised for the volunteer commitment given over many years with the support of my family and friends. I was also very pleased to meet and hear from other dedicated volunteers who attended the awards ceremony. Thanks goes to the RYA for organising the event and recognising the valuable role that volunteers contribute."
Steve Town from Margate received an Outstanding Commitment Award for having made invaluable contributions to the sport.
Steve joined Margate Yacht Club five years ago. In 2019, it was reluctantly decided the club would sell its vast clubhouse, which was inaccessible and in a poor state of repair. He assisted the club’s Buildings Subcommittee in finding a buyer and negotiating a deal to refurbish the ground floor and basement as a new clubhouse and training suite and lease it back to the club on a 999-year lease at a peppercorn rent. He has been at the forefront of this project, planning, writing the 83-page technical specification, sourcing materials and nursing the very aged building through to its conversion. Thanks to his work, the club has a large sum of money to achieve its ten-year plan.
Now Vice Commodore, Steve takes an active part in running the club. He made his idea a reality through dedication, an amazing amount of hard work and the willingness to share his knowledge for free. His passion for sailing, bringing it to more people and making it accessible for the whole community, has inspired others to volunteer.
Steve said: “It was a great pleasure to be firstly nominated for this award by my club when there are many other well deserving volunteers there. It was an extreme honour to personally receive this from Princess Anne and a memory I will treasure.”
Stuart McAdam from Maidenhead also received an Outstanding Contribution Award.
Stuart has been a dedicated member of Maidenhead Sailing Club since he joined in 2011. As Membership Secretary until 2017 he made a real impact updating membership information and created an excellent welcome pack, as well as helping to improve the quarterly newsletter. He now works tirelessly with the youth and junior section and has coached many of the youngsters. As a result, some now participate at squad level, and many are involved in club racing.
This year Stuart became Sailing Captain and has worked to update all club race instructions and create new and updated officer-of-the-day guidelines. He has also set to work on updating the website, adding several new sections including Women on Water and has introduced the use of trackers to both club racing and youth and junior sessions. Stuart has been instrumental in helping to establish a club management plan, offering the club a clear vision. He also finds the time to maintain the club’s 16 boats. His energy and drive are amazing.
Rob Clark, RYA Director of Sport Development said: “So many different types of people give their time to support sailors in enjoying the many benefits of getting on the water – and this year’s Volunteer Awards demonstrate that there is a role for everyone, both on and off the water."
“It is truly inspiring to see awards going to volunteers ranging in age from teenagers, who have experienced at a young age how rewarding it can be to contribute to the wider community, to those who have given more than 60 years of service, helping to sustain not only our sport but also local communities.”
Attending her first RYA Volunteer Awards ceremony, Chief Executive Sara Sutcliffe MBE, commented: “The commitment and dedication that this year’s RYA Volunteer Award recipients have shown is simply outstanding. It has been an honour for me to be part of the for the first time.
“Each and every one of our award recipients has been an inspiration to us all and it is my great pleasure to recognise their contributions and achievements.”
Find out more about the RYA Volunteer Awards
Volunteers are at the heart of RYA and club activity, providing opportunities and supporting others to enjoy being on the water and enjoying the many benefits it brings. There are many ways to volunteer and if you’re able to give a little of your time you can make a big difference. Find out more
Photos credit Paul Wyeth RYA