More High Peak youngsters have the chance to develop vital life skills on the water as Toddbrook Sailing Club has been awarded the national RYA OnBoard seal of approval.

RYA OnBoard is the grassroots programme, run by sailing’s national governing body, making it easier and cheaper to get more young people aged 8-18 afloat by providing low cost sailing sessions through schools, youth groups and families. Children can use the club's boats so don’t need their own.

Last month Errwood SC in Buxton got the green light to join the national programme and now more High Peak youngsters have the chance to benefit from getting on the water as Toddbrook SC, near Whaley Bridge, becomes the latest club to get OnBoard.

Toddbrook already has well-established connections with local youth groups. Every year they host ‘have a go’ sessions for local Scouts, Explorers, Guides and Brownies. Some of these take place in the evenings and others for a whole day, usually Saturdays. Many who enjoy the tasters go on to join Toddbrook’s junior section with youngsters encouraged to become instructors and to take part in the Derbyshire Youth Sailing Series.

Twins Rhodri and Callum Evans are just two of Toddbrook's young people to take that path, with Rhodri since joining the sailing club at the University of Glasgow and being invited to complete Senior Instructor training to teach other Glasgow students to sail.

Being OnBoard now means Toddbrook can build on the awesome qualities sailing helps nurture in young people. Richard Thorpe, the club’s RYA Training Principal, said: "Our aim is to get everyone on the water, tailoring what they do to the conditions. We focus on the youngsters having some fun and enjoying it so they leave with a good impression of sailing and the club and hopefully will want to come and sail again.

“Becoming an OnBoard club will help us to think about how we might increase the learning outcomes and the developmental experience from the activities in which the young people engage. For example, more consciously thinking about the transferable skills we can build into activities.

"Having initially taught our juniors to sail in one-person Toppers they then try two-person dinghies to encourage team working, communication and other transferable skills, all in an outdoor environment in the spectacular Derbyshire countryside. We believe being OnBoard will help us to improve the way in which we think about and plan our youth provision for the benefit of all our junior sailors."

In 2017, a landmark project between the RYA and Professor Bill Lucas, Professor of Learning at the University of Winchester, identified how sailing builds character and nurtures six key strengths in young people - confidence, teamwork, communication, determination, independence and creativity.

Meanwhile in February, Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, announced the government's vision to help children build character and resilience to succeed in life and improve academic outcomes.

Prof. Lucas said: “It’s very encouraging to see the Department for Education actively embracing the contribution of informal activities like sailing to building character.

"All the evidence says it is no longer a question as to whether character is important, it is now all about how you do it. Sailing can provide an answer to that ‘how’, whilst also providing numerous other benefits like having fun with friends and family, being active and getting outdoors."

Alistair Dickson, RYA Director of Sport Development, added: “We are delighted to welcome Toddbrook SC to OnBoard. OnBoard is about fun and enjoyment, while our work with Professor Lucas highlighted the broader learning benefits, which youngsters can take with them off the water and into many other aspects of their lives. It is fantastic more youngsters around High Peak now have these opportunities on their doorsteps.”

Toddbrook SC is a recognised RYA Training Centre, meaning it conforms to the highest standards of safety and quality. Are you a local school or youth group interested in getting young people OnBoard? Visit www.toddbrooksailingclub.org.uk for more information.