Midlands sailing community pays tribute to dedicated ambassador

John Buckingham helped to make the sport accessible for all
26 Jan 22
John Buckingham on the Broads

RYA Midlands is saddened to learn of the passing of John Buckingham, who was dedicated to making the sport more accessible, and in particular for young people.

John was a founder of Leicestershire and Rutland Youth Sailing Association (LRYSA), and was a regional coach for the East Midlands and RYA Council member over many years.

LRYSA is an inclusive charity committed to making sailing accessible for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, mental and physical, including local youngsters who may not otherwise have the chance to experience sailing.

Alongside his passion for supporting LRYSA and its work, John served on the RYA Council representing regional clubs (East Midlands) 1984-1987 and 1990-1993. He also served on the RYA Council representing members (elected by the membership) from 1994-1997.

Colin Magee, LRYSA Chairman and RYA Training Principal, said the Committee and members of LRYSA were saddened to hear of the passing of John, who had been one of the founders of the LRYSA along with himself and John Saunders back in 1967.

Colin said: “At the time sailing was just for the wealthy and privileged, John wanted to make sailing, canoeing and other water sports accessible and affordable to the whole community, focusing primarily on the young.

“The Leicestershire Schools Sailing Association as it was known then was created through his work with the Outdoor Pursuits department at County Hall - John and the other founders set to work begging and borrowing boats and equipment to set up a centre at John Merrick's Lake in Watermead Country Park, where it is still based today.

“Over the years hundreds if not thousands of young people and adults have benefited from John’s inspiration. For many years John was senior coach and chairman of the LRYSA, supporting and developing our activities throughout Leicestershire.

“John was also a dear friend with a wonderful cheeky sense of humour, and compassion for the less fortunate. Our thoughts and sympathy go to his widow Helen and his family at this sad time.”

John and Colin were proud to accept on behalf of LRYSA the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sport in Leicestershire’ award at the Hinckley and Bosworth Sports Awards in 2018, one of many accolades over the years for the organisation and its sailors.

Born in 1935, a farmer’s son from Norfolk, John started sailing on the Broads as a teenager and kept a love of Hunters Yard boats and Broads sailing throughout his life.

John received an RYA Award in 1996 from HRH The Princess Royal. He was also a Yachtmaster instructor and examiner and an international judge, officiating  at events in the UK, Europe and South Africa.

RYA Regional Development Officer Manager Gareth Brookes said John had given a huge amount to the sport, especially in the East Midlands. Gareth, who was previously RYA Midlands Regional Development Officer, added that John had always been supportive of him in this role, particularly when he first came into post in the region.

Gareth said: “John ‘Buck’ gave so much of himself to our sport, and so many of us benefited from his kindness, knowledge, and his keen wit. A day’s sailing or coaching with John was always good fun, and always memorable for all the right reasons. I know that many people who knew John will be thinking of him and his family.”