Awards for dedicated volunteers from North East region clubs

RYA celebrates exceptional commitment and achievements
Volunteering 24 Nov 22

HRH The Princess Royal celebrates RYA Volunteer Award winners 2022

Four dedicated club members from the RYA North East region have been recognised for their exceptional commitment to the sport in this year’s 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.

Nominations are made by fellow volunteers and club members and the annual awards included a range of RYA Community Awards for services to boating at grassroots level.

Lifetime Commitment awards went to Ian Holden from Scaling Dam SC and John Ledger of Derwent Reservoir SC, while Fiona Spence from Ripon SC and Jason Riby of South Shields SC were recognised for their Outstanding Contribution to the sport.

RYA Chief Executive Sara Sutcliffe congratulated and thanked 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.

“Without you our sport would be immeasurably poorer. You are an inspiration to us all and it is my great pleasure to recognise your contributions and achievements.” 

Ian Holden of Scaling Dam SC: Lifetime Commitment

Ian has been a member of Scaling Dam SC for over 30 years. An instructor since 2007, he has helped the club maintain its training programme and introduced many members to sailing.

Ian said: “When you love the sport, volunteering comes naturally really and I’ve found it rewarding and worthwhile. Scaling Dam is a good family friendly club run by the members for the members, we all look out for each other and have a good team of people who work well together to support our activities.”

As Sailing Secretary, Ian trained safety boat crews and was Race Officer at many open meetings, running the race results system until 2020. Treasurer since 2012, he manages the payroll, and during the pandemic he accessed local authority grants and arranged the furloughing of staff.

He has run the duty allocation system for 20 years and his IT skills have helped to develop and maintain the club’s own race management software. He also used his engineering skills to set up the club’s security camera system and the weather station linked to its website.

The club nominated Ian for an RYA Volunteer Award and in its citation added: “Ian is level-headed, analytical and logical, giving his time to listen and make judgment calls based on his vast experience. His patience and communication skills, as well as his sailing expertise, have instilled confidence in the most nervous of pupils and he has ensured the club’s financial security and future.”

Ian Holden is presented with an RYA Volunteer Award by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, credit Paul Wyeth RYA

John Ledger of Derwent Reservoir SC: Lifetime Commitment

An active member of the training team at Derwent Reservoir SC over three decades, John, aged 73, is the club’s former Chief Instructor. The club said in its nomination that John had also taken responsibility for club boat maintenance and been instrumental in the growth and development of the club, providing a wealth of knowledge, skills and encouragement.

Training Principal Ann Penny said: “John stepped down only recently, having put in a huge amount of time assisting and promoting sailing at the club, particularly through open days and training. Totally committed, he is still very much involved as part of the training team now that a new Chief Instructor has been recruited.

“John continues to assist in the team’s activities, instilling confidence in his colleagues as well as students attending courses. Always able to offer helpful advice when it is needed, John has dedicated his life to sailing and introduced thousands of people into the sport.”

John has helped out at the club since first joining, including with bookings, serving on the committee and even running the bar, then became an RYA Senior Instructor and the club’s Chief Instructor.

He said: “The award was a lovely surprise. I’ve been at the club more than 30 years after I went along to learn how to sail and I’ve never looked back! I volunteer for the enjoyment of it. It’s rewarding to help people learn how to sail, get on the water and then join the club. I just love the place.”

John Ledger of Derwent Reservoir SC (both pictured) received an RYA Volunteer Award for Lifetime Achievement

Fiona Spence of Ripon SC: Outstanding Contribution

As Youth and Junior Secretary for the last five years, Fiona she has worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for children to spend time on the water at Ripon SC and across the region.

Fiona said: “I get a great deal of pleasure from helping young people go sailing, providing opportunities for them to realise their ambitions, make friendships and have new experiences. This award is also recognition for the support I’ve personally enjoyed from so many people in the background, helping to deliver many of our activities, events and adventures both at the club and in the region in recent years and I’d like to say thank you to them all.”

Fiona developed and delivered Pre-Sailors sessions for under-7s and coached Improvers sessions. She also re-launched a modified ‘introduction to racing’ programme called Kickstarter, supporting young sailors and novices to develop their confidence and skills with coaching sessions followed by on-water support during Sunday club racing, which has helped to grow the racing fleet at the club.

The club added that the success of Fiona’s programmes and ‘can do’ attitude was reflected in the results of Ripon youth and junior sailors at local and national regattas and in RYA training squad selections: “Fiona has been, and continues to be, a role model for the next generation of sailors, nurturing and encouraging them to be involved at club, regional and national levels, and to find a lifelong love of the sport”

Although Fiona recently stepped down from her youth and junior role, she continues to volunteer as a coach. She is also involved with promoting the hugely successful North East & Yorkshire Youth Sailing Traveller Series, and is currently planning for its 40th anniversary celebrations.

Fiona Spence is presented with an RYA Volunteer Award by HRH The Princess Royal credit Paul Wyeth RYA

Jason Riby of South Shields SC: Outstanding Contribution

Having joined South Shields SC 21 years ago, Jason is currently serving as Commodore for the third time. He is also the club’s Training Principal and has previously supported its activities as Vice Commodore, Sailing Secretary and Chief Powerboat Instructor.

Jason said: “South Shields is a relaxed and friendly club and it was nice to get involved. We have a fantastic sailing area and resources, there’s a great atmosphere and it’s fun. We have a relatively small membership but everybody is always prepared to help out and join in, and we run some big events over and above the size of the club. It’s a great place with some really good people so it’s rewarding to be volunteering at the club and helping out.”  

The club said that in addition to his committee and training roles, Jason’s engineering background and IT skills had been invaluable for helping to maintain the club’s powerboats and equipment and managing the club’s website. Jason has organised regular RYA powerboat courses for the club and the wider watersports community, while as a qualified Race Officer, he plays a pivotal role in running local and national championships at the club. He also regularly supports the 3rd South Shields Sea Scouts at the club with teaching, rescue cover and helping to maintain their fleet.

Niall Graham, Sailing Secretary at South Shields SC, said: “Jason has approached each role with skill, enthusiasm, and commitment, using his leadership skills to encourage others to volunteer and ensure they are appreciated and recognised. As the main contact for new members, he welcomes everyone into the club community.”

Jason Riby is presented with an RYA Volunteer Award by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, credit Paul Wyeth RYA

Find out more

A video round up of the RYA Volunteer Awards ceremony can be found here or 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.