Aidan Pounder, who also volunteers at Royal Ulster Yacht Club, was named Volunteer of the Year, having won a similar accolade at RYANI’s awards in 2017.

Aidan currently has many volunteering roles – as well as being an Executive Member, he is the Training Centre Principal,  Rear Commodore (Sailing) and is a member of the Race Management Team. As part of Aidan’s multiple roles, he organises the annual training calendar and works to co-ordinate programmes and courses to get as many people out on the water and returning to sport as possible. These include national events and club racing, as well as programmes such as the Women on Water initiative that promotes sailing opportunities for female participants, and the ‘Push the Boat Out’ national try sailing event. He is also involved in the organisation of the RYANI Youth Championships, the governing body’s biggest event.

Sport NI’s SportMaker Awards recognise outstanding achievements by Northern Ireland’s sporting workforce. The Volunteer of the Year title is awarded to individuals who demonstrate outstanding contribution to the development of sport. It was presented to Aidan by David Smyth, Coaching Consultant at Sport NI, at Ballyholme Yacht Club’s Danske Bank Icebreaker Series on Sunday 18th November.

Reacting to his win, Aidan said:

“Receiving the award was a big surprise today and I’m absolutely delighted. I really enjoy volunteering and I love to see other people benefit from what we do at Ballyholme Yacht Club. Sailing is one of those sports that relies heavily on volunteer participation and if we didn’t have that we simply couldn’t offer the activities that we do.”

Congratulating Aidan on his award, Sport NI Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown added:

“The role that volunteers play in making sport happen in Northern Ireland cannot be overestimated. Every day, these individuals dedicate their time and energy to helping others enjoy, engage and excel in sport. All too often this can go unnoticed, and that’s why, through the SportMaker Awards, Sport NI wants to shine a spotlight on the impact people like Aidan are having in sports clubs and organisations throughout Northern Ireland. Aidan has played a vital role in supporting both participants and other members of the sporting workforce to access, participate and develop in sailing. His passion for his sport is really inspiring, and we are delighted to be presenting him with the award for Volunteer of the Year. On behalf of Sport NI, I would like to congratulate Aidan and hope he continues to play such a positive and important role as a SportMaker.”

Lisa McCaffrey, the RYANI Active Clubs Officer, who nominated Aidan for his award, added:

“Aidan has been a fantastic role model for volunteering in the sport of sailing. His enthusiasm and commitment to the sport is absolutely outstanding and I’m sure that Aidan’s clubs are incredibly proud of him.”

Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©Sunday 18 November 2018Ballyholme Yacht ClubVolunteer of the Year