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.
Jon Clay from Reading received an RYA Lifetime Commitment Award (photo above) which recognises the exceptional long-term commitments made by individuals at the grassroots level of the sports and activities the RYA represents.
Jon joined Reading Sailing Club in1984 and is one of the longest serving committee members. Re-qualifying as a Dinghy Instructor the qualifying as a Senior Instructor, he took on the dual role of Chief Instructor and Training Principal over 15 years ago.
Under his leadership, the club has successfully maintained its RYA training accreditation, which has been vital not only in generating around 20% of annual revenue but also attracting new members. He has overseen the introduction of powerboat training, ensured that there are enough safety boat drivers to support all training and racing activities and, through his hard work and enthusiasm, the club has developed a strong and well-qualified training team.
Jon has very high standards, even taking on personal responsibility for maintaining the training boats as well as managing the refurbishment and resale of old boats to help fund new ones. He has contributed huge amounts of time and effort in passing on his knowledge, skills, and passion for sailing to new members and ensuring the future of the club.
Jon said: “I am delighted to receive this award in recognition of the many years I have been involved with RYA training at Reading Sailing Club. Having started at an early age myself, it has always been my aim to pass on my knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport to as many club members as I can.”
Newton Anthony from Reading received an RYA Outstanding Contribution Award which recognises the exceptional commitments made by individuals at the grassroots level of the sports and activities the RYA represents.
Newton has been a key member of Reading Sailing Club for 12 years. During his 10 years as Racing Secretary, he expanded the racing programme significantly and the racing standard improved with his advice to both racers and race officers. He is a Dinghy Instructor and has helped on many weekend training courses, which have been vital in attracting new members to the club, as well as assisting youth, junior, and Oppie training sessions.
He has taken responsibility to ensure the lake is sailable, despite its tendency to develop weed during the summer months. He has regularly added dye to the water to slow weed growth and has designed and fabricated a unique metal frame cutter, to attach to a power boat, that cuts the weed to a safe depth.
Newton regularly trains up new crews, as well as offering advice to anyone who needs it. During lockdown, he set up and co-ordinated a virtual race sailing programme to keep members engaged. His commitment and desire to improve sailing on the lake, and assist beginners, demonstrates real passion.
Newton said: “I am honoured to receive this award, and grateful that the club appreciated my contributions and put me forward.”
Hadey Lines from Reading was one of six individuals receiving a Young Volunteer Award, showing that it’s never too soon to start supporting others in the sport.
Hadey joined Black Swan Sailing Club while at primary school, moving to Reading Sailing Club in 2010. She loved sailing from the first time she set foot in a Pico and quickly went through the RYA Sailing Scheme and Start Racing qualifications. In 2014 she began helping to teach the younger children at Oppie training sessions, going on to gain her Dinghy Assistant Instructor, Powerboat Level 2, and First Aid qualifications before becoming an RYA Dinghy Instructor.
She is a fantastic Instructor who makes everything fun and is always positive and constructive during debriefing. Whatever task she is assigned to do, she can be relied on to complete it cheerfully and with enthusiasm.
Hadey continued her involvement in Oppie training every year until going to university, where she raced and taught beginners, while keeping her commitment to the club when she could. The club still benefits from her help today, although she lives in Lancaster. She has recently qualified as a Dinghy Race Coach and is a great role model for the younger members.
Hadey said: “It was such an honour to receive this award and be presented by HRH Princess Anne. It was amazing to be in a room with so many incredible people, and I hope that this will inspire other young girls to get involved and push their sailing aspirations higher!”
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 Reading Sailing Club, an informal, friendly sailing club where members can race, cruise, and join in the various social events.