Nine dedicated club members from the RYA Midlands region have been recognised for their exceptional generosity and commitment to the sport in the 2022 RYA Volunteer Awards.
Volunteers from across the country were invited to attend a glittering ceremony at One Great George Street in Westminster, London, to receive their awards from HRH The Princess Royal, President of the Royal Yachting Association.
The annual presentations included RYA Community Awards recognising services at club or grassroots level, including for Lifetime Commitment and Outstanding Contribution, with nominations made by fellow volunteers, club members and those in the boating community.
RYA Chief Executive Sara Sutcliffe congratulated all of those honoured in this year’s awards and said: “I am sure that your time, hard work, and expertise were given without thought of recognition or reward, but your generosity has nevertheless been greatly appreciated. You are an inspiration to us all and it is my great pleasure to recognise your contributions and achievements.”
David Partridge, Chelmarsh SC: Honor Preston Award
The Honor Preston Award is presented each year to an individual who has made a significant contribution in time, effort, and personal endeavour to increase the inclusivity of boating, in particular, although not limited to, female participation.
Former commodore David has been a member of Chelmarsh SC for 15 years. Elected Vice Commodore in 2017, he was key to producing a development plan to attract a wider range of members, recognising that the sailing membership was aging and predominantly male.
Under his determined leadership the club has become financially secure after expanding its activities to include paddleboarding and open water swimming, which has also seen benefits for sailing, generating financial stability to buy new boats and develop training opportunities. He has also created opportunities for disadvantaged children and NHS social subscribing projects and worked with Mind to offer patients watersports sessions to help with physical and mental health difficulties.
David completed his term as Commodore in December 2021 and thanks to his efforts, Chelmarsh SC was an RYA ‘Club of the Year’ finalist in 2020 and 2021, in recognition of being inclusive and open to all. Commenting on his RYA Volunteer Award, he said: “I’m absolutely thrilled and it’s really a recognition of all the volunteers at Chelmarsh and their work to raise the profile of the club and build membership, particularly female membership through the introduction of swimming and paddleboarding. More than 50% of our members are now female and anything that gets more people out on the water has to be good news.”
Current Commodore Richard Woods said: “David’s performance and level of commitment as Commodore has been quite exceptional by any standards. All of this in the most difficult time of a pandemic. Our club now buzzes with activity after diversifying from pure dinghy sailing into a 'water sports centre'. He has developed a sense of vibrancy, strengthened and integrated local roots, supported charities and enhanced standards of governance.”
Rather than rest on his ‘laurels’ David has now become the Principal of Training!
Tim Coleshaw, South Staffordshire SC: Lifetime Commitment
Having joined South Staffs SC in 1992, Tim soon gained instructor qualifications to support training. He then became an RYA Senior Instructor, leading the club’s junior training programme while also being on hand to support adult sailing courses. Alongside instructing, Tim has held various positions on club committees and as Commodore was part of the team that secured South Staffordshire SC’s place as an RYA ‘Club of the Year’ finalist in 2019.
Rear Commodore James Ashworth said: “Tim continues to be a valuable part of the club’s sail training team. He has a fun but reassuringly calm style, which works exceptionally well with the juniors. He is most often found in the centre of a crowd of happy, smiling children at the club or on the water.”
With a career in nature conservation, Tim’s other roles have included supporting the club with sustainability policies, the control of invasive species and weed control measures in the lake. Tim said: “South Staffordshire Sailing Club is a club where we do pretty much everything ourselves and there’s a real ethos of everybody doing their bit and bringing their own skill set to help.
“I like to volunteer because it’s about giving something back. I’ve sailed since I was 12 years old and I’ve had a lot of pleasure out of sailing. I also find teaching sailing very satisfying, particularly with the youngsters. It’s rewarding to see children who we’ve started off sailing, developing their skills and their own lifelong enjoyment of the sport.”
Charles Ferrar, Notts County SC: Lifetime Commitment
Charles has been a member of Notts County SC since 2002 and qualifying as an RYA Senior Instructor a year after joining, he has given many hours of his time teaching and was the club’s Training Principal from 2013 until November 2021.
Having led numerous Assistant Instructor courses over the years, many young people who Charles has taught are now fully qualified instructors themselves and contributing to the continued success of the club. His role has also seen him running taster sessions for local community groups, and developing a five-year plan which is now the blueprint for the future of training at the club.
The club said in its citation: “Charles continues to assist the training section as a Senior Instructor on many of the club’s RYA training courses. His enthusiasm, especially when teaching newcomers, is infectious. He encourages and inspires instructors to deliver their best, and always has a smile on his face.”
Charles, who has a career background in civil engineering, said: “All the RYA training activities that I have been part of over the years have always been both enjoyable and rewarding. I feel I should actually be giving the RYA an award for making that possible.”
Terry Forbes, Staunton Harold SC: Lifetime Commitment
As Rear Commodore Maintenance at Staunton Harold SC since 2001, Terry’s role has included managing large extensions to the clubhouse and boathouse, rewiring the training room and looking after any other facilities-related issues, including budgets and all the latest health and safety advisories. He also regularly helps to run club racing.
Club spokesperson Ann Nugent said: “Terry ensures that sailing is made possible and runs smoothly in every way, inside and outside the clubhouse. Terry’s ‘can-do’ attitude and generosity of spirit always sees his annual working parties packed with members and every activity is carefully planned.
“With his years of expertise and ability to find sailors with a multitude of useful professions, he has ensured the club and its facilities are kept in pristine order as cost-effectively as possible.”
Terry, whose background is in construction, said: “I used to be a windsurfer but when my knees started hurting I took up sailing at the age of 35. I turned up at the club, they showed me how to rig a boat and I was in a race within 20 minutes! It’s a very family friendly club with great racing and training, so three months later when they asked for people to go on the committee, I volunteered. I just think the more you do, the more you can do.”
Jonathan Hughes, Draycote Water SC: Lifetime Commitment
Having been an active member of Draycote Water SC for more than 40 years, Jonathan’s volunteer roles have included Rear Commodore Sail and Fleet Captain. He also supports racing management for events and championships, and since 2016 he has led the youth and junior section, which continues to grow and flourish.
Club president Jeremy Atkins said: “It is a reflection of Jonathan’s contribution that he, either alone or with others, has been awarded the club’s own award for voluntary service, the Commodore’s Cup, three times throughout his time as a member. He is always willing to stop and talk to new and old members alike, encouraging participation with a broad smile and positive attitude.”
Under Jonathan’s leadership, youth and junior activity at the club has increased dramatically, with children and young people aged eight upwards able to develop their skills and confidence on the water while having fun and making lasting friendships, with some even going on to compete nationally and internationally.
Jonathan said: “Introducing so many young people to our sport and seeing them grow into confident and accomplished sailors, capable of competing at the highest level, has been a great source of personal satisfaction for me. It has not been down to me alone though, and I would like to say a huge thank you to our team of volunteers who enable so many Youth & Junior sailing activities to take place at the Club for their continuing help."
Ian Cowdale, Himley Hall SC: Outstanding Contribution
Rear Commodore at Himley Hall SC since 2011, Ian’s duties at the club include preparing the sailing calendar for the year and organising race officers and safety boat duties. He’s also taken on responsibility for maintaining equipment and organising the club trophies for its annual awards.
A trustee of the club, Ian is a signatory on the club’s bank accounts and occasionally acts as unofficial assistant treasurer. Combined with a background in health and safety, the volunteer-run club describes Ian as the “go-to member for advice”.
Commodore Alan Dean said: “If a job needs doing, particularly if it is one that doesn’t neatly fall to someone else, Ian will be found doing it. He works quietly and patiently and gives up a vast amount of his time to keep everyone sailing and competing. It is a testament to his quiet efficiency that his efforts often go under the radar and some members are unaware of how much he does for the club.”
Ian, who is a retired property manager and health and safety consultant, said: “The award was a lovely surprise. It’s a small family club so everybody is your friend and you look to do your bit. I have a little more time than most and so thought I’d put it to good use. I’ve found volunteering for the club very rewarding.”
Helen Elson, Tamworth SC: Outstanding Contribution
As the driving force behind Super Sailors, the junior club at Tamworth SC, Helen helps children to gain confidence on the water through games and fun activities, delivers formal RYA training courses and encourages young people to become volunteer helpers and then instructors. After taking on the role of Chief Instructor for the club in late 2021, Helen now takes responsibility for delivering its programme of adult courses as well.
Commodore Peter O’Toole said: “Helen is also club Welfare Officer and one of our Social Secretaries. The club’s annual gala day would not be the same without her games, which normally involve a lot of dressing up, team race challenges, water pistol fights and knot work. Helen is one of the most caring, fun-loving people in the club and her boundless, almost childlike enthusiasm for sailing draws people in. She passes on that enthusiasm to new and existing members, often at the expense of her own sailing time.”
Helen, an orthodontic therapist, learnt how to sail at Tamworth SC following an open day, and with two young daughters at the time who are now in their early 20s, was then inspired to take instructor qualifications. She explains: “I wanted to start a junior club so I became an RYA Senior Instructor and I do still really enjoy running the children’s activities. I find it really rewarding to see the children laughing and having fun, and I volunteer because it’s about giving something back to the sport. I love teaching the children and also now want to encourage the adults who have learnt to sail with us, so they can likewise keep developing their skills.
“I’m really honoured to have received an RYA Volunteer Award but there are a lot of people who help and we have some amazing volunteers at the club who all support me, so it’s a big thank you to them as well. We have a thriving, friendly club, and a great bunch of people who are always keen to welcome new members.”
Adrian Jones, Nottinghamshire County SC: Outstanding Contribution
Adrian Jones, served on the executive committee of Notts County SC for six years as Rear Commodore, Vice Commodore and Commodore, with the club thriving under his leadership.
Along with the Treasurer he introduced the online ‘Sailing Club Manager’ database and duty system. Adrian is an RYA Dinghy Instructor, recently became the club’s Chief Powerboat Instructor, and as a busy hospital consultant, also contributes as a First Aid instructor.
In its citation for the award, the club said: “Adrian has used his considerable talents and a great deal of time to the benefit of the club. He is a very patient instructor and enthuses not only the people he is teaching but also the junior instructors he takes under his wing.”
Adrian grew up in Southampton but only learned to sail after moving to Nottingham and taking a course at the club on hearing about it from a friend: “We were made to feel very welcome and I just loved it, so I carried on from there and did my instructor tickets. I find it completely de-stressing to be out on the water and also really enjoy teaching, particularly children and people my age. It’s great to see people who think they can’t possibly sail, take the tiller for five minutes and realise they can do it.”
Paul Munro, Staunton Harold SC: Outstanding Contribution
A member of Staunton Harold Sailing Club for 15 years, Paul is an RYA Senior Instructor and Principal of the Sailing School, helping to run courses and Junior Squad weekends, and has also recently qualified as a Power Boat Instructor. Under his leadership, the focus is on developing life long sailors who go on to join a sailing club, and during the pandemic, he adapted the courses to instruct adults in single-handed boats so training could restart at the earliest opportunity.
In its citation for the award, the club added: “Inspiring a love for sailing and ensuring young sailors forge great sailing friendships, Paul’s enthusiasm and management set the tone for a thriving junior section. He became Sailing School Principal in 2017 and his passion and professionalism have ensured that the sailing school has flourished.
“Paul has made an exceptional contribution to the club, spearheading, and supporting the club’s instructor resources and encouraging keen sailors to develop their own sailing and instructing skills.”
Paul said: “I learnt to sail at Staunton Harold aged 40 with my wife and two daughters. The club was very friendly and supportive, and it seemed natural to join and take part in activities, developing our sailing skills along the way. Pretty soon we were helping run shoreside junior training before achieving instructor qualifications so we could help on the water too. I have a wonderful team of instructors and helpers who give their time freely to bring on the next generation of sailors and it’s a real pleasure to be part of the SHSC community.”
Find out more
A video round up of the RYA Volunteer Awards ceremony can be found here or to read about all of this year’s winners and find out about the 2023 Volunteer Awards which will open for nominations in the new year.