Twelve Midlands had their contribution to grassroots sailing recognised by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at the 2016 RYA Volunteer Awards on Friday (18 November).
The RYA Volunteer Awards are considered the 'MBEs' of the sport and 44 people from across Britain were honoured for their exceptional generosity and commitment to boating at the ceremony and exclusive luncheon held at One Great George Street, Westminster.
Sutton Coldfield-based Bob and Sue Ingram received their RYA National Award,
presented to outstanding individuals for their commitment and services to boating and the RYA at a national level, for their work with the UK Windsurfing Association.
There were RYA Lifetime Commitment Awards,
for individuals who have shown exceptional commitment and dedication to their club or organisation for at least 15 years, for Michael and June Anslow (Midland SC), Geoff Holmes (Rudyard Lake SC), Vic Stuthridge (Heart of England Offshore Cruising Association) and William Bradburn (South Staffs SC).
Meanwhile, Nigel and Diane Pepperdine (Staunton Harold SC), Simon Thompson (Covenham SC) and Neil Hawkins (South Staffs SC) collected RYA Outstanding Contribution Awards,
for individuals who have made a significant volunteer contribution either over a period of time or a 'one-off' effort.
And Mark Fleming (South Staffs SC) received an RYA Youth Award
, recognising those under 25 who have demonstrated a regular commitment and/or inspirational contribution over-and-above their own participation or achievement within the sport.
Neil Hawkins said: "We need volunteers for every single club activity from junior to adult training, safety cover, galley, management committees and even the South Staffs band! There are so many social events too and every single person is needed to keep the club working as well as it does."
Simon Thompson said: "On Wednesday evenings we have 20-30 kids turn up on the water and to watch them progress and develop, starting out nervous as anything on the water and then actually going on to become confident, lively, engaging instructors themselves, you can see the difference you've made. I owe sailing a debt of gratitude as it has helped me develop myself both personally and professionally."
Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive, continued: "The RYA Volunteer Awards recognise the genuinely exceptional voluntary contributions that are given by so many individuals who make a real impact in boating."
Alistair Dickson, RYA Director of Sport Development, added: "These volunteers are making our sport happen and without them local people wouldn't be getting out on the water and enjoying all the activities they do. It's really important we take the time to say thank you."
The sailors were all nominated by their clubs or associations and selected as winners by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel.
HRH The Princess Royal presented a total of 23 Lifetime Commitment Awards, nine Outstanding Contribution and two Youth Awards in addition to a number of other special categories.
For more information about how to get out on the water in the Midlands visit www.rya.org.uk/go/startboating