Royal recognition for Crawley Mariners volunteer

Donal Roche from Burgess Hill, West Sussex was among the volunteers whose invaluable contributions across sailing and boating communities were celebrated by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, President of the RYA, at an awards ceremony in central London.
17 Nov 23
LSE volunteer awards 2023 Donal Roche

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.

Lifetime Commitment

Donal received an RYA Lifetime Commitment Award which recognises the exceptional and long-term commitments made by individuals at the grassroots level of the sports and activities the RYA represents.

Donal joined Crawley Mariners Yacht Club in 1985 and has served as Commodore, Honorary Secretary and Sailing Secretary. He was involved in the training programme at the club, initially as an Instructor and then as a Senior Instructor, Advanced Instructor and Level 2 Race Coach. He initiated a Junior Bursary Scheme to assist parents whose children were becoming dinghy instructors or developing their sailing outside of the club.

As a long-standing lead on the development of junior sailors he was a key member of the management team for the club’s two annual residential weekends for youngsters. He attended almost all of them and his contribution was wide-ranging, from towing boats to developing the youngsters’ skills in spinnaker handling and trapezing technique. In addition, he took on the planning and day-to-day management of the club’s Junior Activity Week for three years.

Donal has organised monthly social meetings, researching and engaging speakers, and continues to serve on the sub-committees. Currently he is also Cruising Co-ordinator. His enthusiasm continues, and he always steps up to help both the club and his fellow members.

Donal said of his award: “I have enjoyed my various volunteer roles with Crawley Mariners over many years. The award was most unexpected. It is encouraging to see my modest contribution being formally recognised by the RYA.”

RYA Director pays tribute

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!”

Humbling achievements

“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.”

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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 volunteering.

Crawley Mariners Sailing Club

Find out more about Crawley Mariners Sailing Club, which has a well-deserved reputation for being a very friendly club with a relaxed atmosphere