Paul Johnson is one of some 44 volunteers who are being celebrated across the UK for their exceptional dedication in boating.
Traditionally taking place at an awards ceremony in London, the RYA Volunteer Awards recognise and say ‘thank you’ to volunteers who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport, with recipients nominated by their sailing clubs, class associations and members of the boating community. Given the current environment, Paul’s Lifetime Commitment Award presentation took place virtually, and was awarded by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Vice Admiral Alan Richards CB (also Past Commodore of Rickmansworth Sailing Club), with members of the Club and RYA East Region Committee in attendance.
Rickmansworth Sailing Club Commodore Jonathan Carter started proceedings, after which Doug MacEwen, Chair of the RYA East Region outlined the importance of volunteers in keeping clubs vibrant and alive, which was both true of Rickmansworth Sailing Club and Paul’s efforts, with the Award very well deserved. It was then for Vice Admiral Alan Richards to continue, who explained Paul’s background in the Club – since having joined some 25 years ago he had wholeheartedly thrown himself into Club life, his commitment and enthusiasm proving an inspiration to many. He concluded by emphasising the outstanding contribution made by Paul and his wife Sue.
Paul thanked Alan for his kind words, saying he was totally surprised and honoured at the news of the Award:
“There are many others at the Sailing Club who put in so much time and effort, it seems unfair to single out one person. Every member contributes something: a boat on the water, admin support, maintenance work, money etc; some are able or willing to do more than others but every contribution, large or small, helps. Thanks again for this Award.”
He later added: “I wanted to be an active member of the Club so when asked to join the Committee I agreed and from then on, I just became more involved”.
Paul Johnson was nominated for a Lifetime Commitment Award and selected as a winner by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel, having been a stalwart of Rickmansworth Sailing Club for nearly 25 years. The numerous roles he has held within the Club include two stints as Commodore, as well as serving as Membership Secretary, Club Secretary, Solo Class Captain and other roles, always exercising due diligence and diplomacy. An Assistant Dinghy Instructor and a club Racing Coach with a RYA First Aid qualification, he is always there when needed and is never afraid to ‘get his hands dirty’ for the good of the club. He has even worked as caretaker and groundsman, prompting his wife to comment that he never had time to do odd jobs at home because he was always doing them at the club.
Friendly, approachable and dependable, Paul has promoted the club brilliantly at external events and has been a tremendous teacher of young and older sailors alike. Working quietly and effectively to support the club through good times and bad, he has influenced changes that have seen a 40% increase in membership in the last decade. The club is thriving today, in large part due to his efforts.
Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive, said: “This year more than ever before we have seen our club volunteers come together and work tirelessly to ensure members can continue to sail. The generosity and dedication of each of the RYA Volunteer Award recipients is simply outstanding and it’s a pleasure to be able to recognise these winners through this award”.