They were amongst 57 people who were recognised at the RYA Volunteer Awards on Friday (16 November) in a ceremony held at One Great George Street, Westminster, London.

They were nominated for the awards by their clubs and selected as winners by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel.


David Finch has been a leading member of Silver Wing Sailing club for over 60 years, having twice taken the role of commodore and having served as a club officer for much of this time, steering the club through some turbulent times.

“I was delighted with the awards ceremony which expresses the importance that the RYA places on volunteers and family involvement in sailing, with awards being presented personally by Princess Anne.” said David. “Thank you very much to my colleagues at Silver Wing Sailing Club for nominating me as a recipient."

Hector Morris served as treasurer for Upper Thames Sailing for over 10 years, and he worked tirelessly as a Trustee when the club was affected by nearby development. For 23 years, his services on the Wednesday night race team helped build the popularity of the club’s mid-week sailing and he was instrumental in putting a training programme in place for the children of members.

Hector was unable to attend the event but said: “I was amazed to receive an award for something that I always enjoyed doing with the opportunity it gave me of meeting so many interesting characters.”


Nigel Barraclough has volunteered at Littleton Phabsail for 20 years and has been providing vital support as its Maintenance Officer since 2013, looking after virtually all the club’s equipment. Over the years he has helped with most, if not all, aspects of running the club and is a respected Trustee of the charity.

Nigel said: “Receiving the news about the award was a complete surprise but to receive the award from HRH Princess Anne and to meet the other award winners, exchange stories and hear what they had achieved made it particularly special. I seem to recall her Royal Highness asked me if it felt like a lifetime but I was able to say that the time has gone quickly, and over the years I have met some wonderful people and had a lot of pleasure from Phabsail.”


Christopher Woolley MBE from Folkestone has devoted his time to the Rona Sailing Project (RSP) based at Sarisbury Green near Southampton,

Chris was a 19-year-old RSP trainee in 1967, becoming a skipper in 1975 and a Trustee in 1987. He played a major role in leading and modernising the project, updating training and promotion procedures which ensure the boats are always operated safely and with good seamanship.

He has enabled the RSP to become more accessible to young people and vulnerable adults. He was the first skipper to lead an all-girl crew on an RSP voyage and worked hard to introduce a range of special voyages for individuals with mental health problems, instigating RSP’s Sailing for Mental Health Programme.

“My wife, Dawn, and I had a wonderful day at the RYA awards,” said Chris. “It was a great honour to receive the award from HRH The Princess Royal. It was so good to meet the other award winners from all over the country who give so much of their time to boating.” He adds “The RYA gives us a great structure and model to follow in teaching sailing and their professionalism and support is invaluable. This award means a great deal to me but I know we could not operate our Project without the assistance of all our volunteers so a very big thank you to them.”


Dave Gordon has been a member of Hastings and St Leonards Sailing Club for 35 years, a coxswain for 10, and he sits on the Sailing Committee. An experienced and active dinghy instructor, he volunteers on adult and youth training courses. Dave is the backbone of the club. His diligence and good humour have been crucial in enabling it to prosper and, in recognition of sterling work, he was made an honorary member in 2015.

Dave said: “I was very proud to receive the RYA lifetime award. The
ceremony was very impressive and I had a most enjoyable and memorable


During 35 years’ membership of Tonbridge Town Sailing Club, Bob Elliot has been at the forefront of the club in a number of prominent roles. As an RYA Dinghy Instructor and Powerboat Instructor, he has supported and encouraged two generations and hundreds of new sailors with patience and good humour, as generous with his encouragement of the adults as he is with the children.

Bob said: “I had a really enjoyable day at the RYA Awards ceremony and was honoured to receive an award. It was good to meet so many people from around the country, all doing their bit to further the sport of sailing.”

Watch a video of the event.

Nominations are now invited for the 2019 RYA Volunteer Awards .