RYA Shines Spotlight on Boating's Unsung Heroes Jim McNaughten

A volunteer from West Mersea, Essex, has been awarded one of the Royal Yachting Association’s (RYA) most prestigious awards in recognition of his commitment to sailing, and particularly teaching, at West Mersea Yacht Club.
08 Nov 20

Jim McNaughten 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.

The RYA Volunteer Awards are divided into four categories: RYA Awards, RYA Community Awards, The Francis Elkin Award and, new for 2020, the RYA Honor Preston Award. This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, some winners will be presented with their awards at small presentations held at their sailing venues, whilst others receive them from the safety of their homes.

Jim McNaughten was nominated for a National Award and selected as a winner by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel. He is one of the RYA’s earliest appointed RYA Yachtmaster™ examiners who, over the years, has examined hundreds of Yachtmasters. He is also one of the longest serving RYA Instructors, continuing to teach theory courses at the age of 89, and having been West Mersea Yacht Club’s Training Centre Principal since the 1970s. 

This is made even more remarkable by the fact that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the RYA’s training schemes and Jim has been involved since the very beginning. His enthusiasm and experience is inspirational to many, and his relaxed, informative, anecdotal style has benefited generations of sailors – drawing on his many experiences! In the winter of 2019/20, Jim had 12 students in his theory class – an exceptional number by today’s standards.

Jim said of the Award: “I feel honoured to be in receipt of an RYA Volunteer Award but of course I could not have done anything without my team of instructors who are of course also volunteers.”

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”.

Read all about each winner or find more information about the RYA Volunteer Awards.