The 2019 RYA Sailability Annual Awards were presented last weekend at the Sailability National Conference and Awards dinner at Wyboston Lakes (Saturday 16 February).

The conference was the most popular to date, with more than 160 delegates, representing 57 Sailability sites across the UK in attendance.

Seven different awards were presented, recognising individuals and organisations whose contribution and achievements have made a real impact.

#MoreThanSailing Award

First to be presented was the #MoreThanSailing Award, recognising a new and innovative project, activity or piece of work that has enabled inactive disabled people to become more active. Presented this year for the first time, it was awarded to Jon Gamon and the SEAS Sailability group at the Conway Centre in Wales.

Jon Gamon commented: “It’s great to take this award back to North Wales, setting up the SEAS Sailability group has been a real community effort, there’s been lots and lots of people involved and to be able to take this back to the Conway Centre and show everyone, they’ll all be really proud. It means such a lot, it’s amazing.”

Exceptional Contribution

The Exceptional Contribution Awards are presented each year to individuals who, over a considerable period have shown exceptional commitment and dedication to boating and getting people on the water. Awarded this year to, Gary Lowe (Redesmere Sailing Club and Rudyard Sailability), Ron Sawford (Hansa Class Association) and Anne Taylor (Belfast Lough Sailability).

Anne Taylor said: “My son had a very serious illness and we were very lucky that he made a full recovery. He may not have and if he hadn’t, he would have needed something like Sailability to keep his spirits going. I’m absolutely delighted to have won this award, I think it’s excellent for our group, Belfast Lough and for raising the profile of Sailability in general.”

The following awards were also presented:

  • Young Person of the Year - Ted Appleton, Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre
  • Volunteer of the Year - James Casaki, Dubai Offshore Sailing Club
  • Team of the Year – Rutland Sailability
  • Sailor of the Year – Bryony Limb, Nancy Oldfield Trust
  • Collaboration of the Year – Tideway Sailability and Leonard Cheshire

RYA Sailability Manager, Joff McGill commented: “Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners. The Sailability Annual Awards recognise the dedication, commitment and contribution of so many, but of course it’s way more than that, there are so many other people who have given so much and we’re just recognising a few of them.

“We’d also like to say thank you to everyone that attended this year’s conference, it’s been an absolute privilege to share ideas and connect with so many individuals that are so passionate about RYA Sailability. We’re looking forward to another amazing year.”

Finally, Jon Gamon explains: “Why Sailability? Sailing is one of the few things that levels the playing field, it’s the one thing that everyone can do. When you get in the boat it doesn’t matter what’s right or wrong with you, that all goes away and people can compete at the same level.”

To find out more about disabled sailing and RYA Sailability visit www.rya.org.uk/sailability