Eight volunteers from Sailability sites around the UK were amongst the 57 people recognised for their exceptional dedication and achievements in boating at the RYA Volunteer Awards on Friday (16 November).

The Awards, which are recognised across four categories: the RYA Awards, RYA Community Awards, the Francis Elkin Award and the Family Award, were presented by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, President of the RYA, at the prestigious event, held at One Great George Street, Westminster, London.

Francis Elkin Award

Laura Carrick was presented with the 2018 Francis Elkin Award, given each year to an individual who has made a significant contribution to enabling people with disabilities to become involved in sailing.

Laura has volunteered for charity, able2sail for more than 12 years and was recognised for her unfaltering commitment. Through volunteering she has seen many young people, often from socially isolated lives and with few prospects become confident, qualified and competitive sailors.

She said: “I was so touched, really thrilled, really excited. I’m accepting the award on behalf of all the volunteers because I love being part of able2sail, I love the atmosphere and the sense of community, volunteering is great fun.”

RYA Community Awards

Four sailors received the RYA Lifetime Commitment Award, for individuals who have shown exceptional commitment and dedication to their club or organisation for over 15 years:

  • Nigel Barraclough, Littleton Phabsail
  • Victoria Brown, Coquet Shorebase Trust
  • David Greenfield, Frampton on Severn Sailing Club
  • Christopher Wolley MBE, Rona Sailing Project

A further three were presented with the RYA Outstanding Contribution Award, for individuals who have volunteered for fewer than 15 years but have already made a significant contribution:

  • Peter Connolly, Welton Waters Adventure Centre
  • Terry Radford, Swarkestone Sailing Club
  • Ross Ryan, Nottinghamshire County Sailing Club

Nigel Barraclough, was recognised for his determination and compassion to help others. Having volunteered at Little Phabsail for 20 years, Nigel delights in taking disabled sailors out on the water and passing on his considerable nautical skill.

Showing great empathy with new or nervous sailors he patiently spends time encouraging and reassuring them until they gain confidence.

Speaking of his RYA Lifetime Commitment Award, Nigel commented: “Receiving the news about the award was a complete surprise, but to receive the award from HRH The Princess Royal 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.”

Meanwhile, David Greenfield who has been a passionate supporter of Frampton on Severn Sailing Club for 36 years, found the awards to be a humbling experience.

Having held almost every primary role within his sailing club, David had a long-term vision to make sailing available to everyone. He incorporated Sailability into the club in 2000, building it up to become a recognised Sailability site which now represents 25% of the club’s membership and supports a fleet of accessible boats.

David said: “It was a super day at a magnificent venue, thanks to the RYA for organising it so well. Meeting HRH The Princess Royal was a delight, she was very chatty, putting you immediately at ease, and very interested in what you did.

“Events like this highlight the large numbers of willing volunteers that are helping all ages to enjoy time on the water.”

Terry Radford was recognised for his drive to make sailing accessible for people with disabilities at Swarkestone Sailing Club. The backbone of Swarkstone Sailability, Terry became a Senior Instructor to run the Sailability sessions in 2012. Since then, his passion and gentle, humble manner has allowed many disabled people, their carers and Sailability volunteers to aspire to and reach new levels of achievement.

Following the ceremony, Terry said: "It was a massive honour to be nominated and then conferred to receive the Award. The whole event was a once in a lifetime moment, from the beauty of the venue, to the clockwork precision at organisational level, to the speech given by Her Royal Highness and the dignity and humour which she brought to the occasion.

"It was a never-to-be-forgotten experience to meet and exchange life styles and thoughts with those present, from RYA representatives to the other award winners. One reason for attending the Awards was to put Swarkestone Sailing Club on the map, so hopefully mission accomplished."

RYA Sailability Manager Joff McGill commented: “It’s fantastic so many volunteers have been recognised for the brilliant work they do. Without volunteers Sailability couldn’t operate as it does today and we are really thankful for the time and commitment people give.”

Nominations are now invited for the 2019 RYA Volunteer Awards.

RYA Sailability Annual Awards 2019

Distinct to the RYA Volunteer Awards, the RYA Sailability Annual Awards recognise the people and organisations that have made a real impact, rewarding dedication, commitment and achievement. Award categories include: Exceptional Contribution, More than Sailing, Volunteer of the Year, Young Person of the Year, Team of the Year, Sailor of the Year and Collaboration of the Year.

Nominations close on Monday 03 December. To learn more about the different categories and submit your nomination visit - www.rya.org.uk/go/sailabilityawards

Winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the RYA Sailability National Conference at Wyboston Lakes Executive Centre on 16 February 2019.