No fewer than eight South West sailors are to be presented with some of the Royal Yachting Association’s most prestigious awards by HRH the Princess Royal, President of the RYA in recognition of their commitment to the sport of sailing and the organisations for which they volunteer. They will receive their awards at the organisation’s annual awards ceremony in London on 22 November.

Ken Elsey, from Highnam, will receive a Lifetime Commitment Award. Ken has been a pillar of the Frampton on Severn Sailing Club (FOSSC) for over four decades. As well as being an outstanding participant in the sport of dinghy sailing at FOSSC, Ken has been at the forefront of the development of fresh ideas and initiatives and his achievements on the water have only been exceeded by the amount of time, effort and skill he has put back into the club and his chosen sport.

Brian Hall, from Long Ashton, is another Lifetime Commitment Award recipient. For 45 years he has been an outstanding contributor to adult, youth and disabled sailing. A founder member of Avon Schools Sailing Association (ASSA) in 1974, he established Bristol Sailability and was responsible for making ASSA, now the West of England Schools Sailing Association, a Recognised Training Centre. When the Association took over the Baltic Wharf Sailing School, he played a crucial role in its transformation into the All Aboard charity.  

Ian, Sue, Sarah and Joe Hotchkiss, from Clevedon, will receive the Family Award for their dedication to Clevedon Sailing Club (CSC). The family has been involved in the running of the club since 1947 when Ian’s parents, Bryon and Jean, founded it and played active roles. The family’s commitment to CSC and its day-to-day management and growth over the last 70 years epitomises the concept of volunteering within the sport. They have helped to guide and inform every aspect of its promotion and operation, and they are viewed with affection and appreciation by club members.  

Paul Kimmens, from Swindon, will receive a National Award. Paul has fulfilled many different roles at South Cerney Sailing Club and has been involved in the training side of the club, leading many projects. A National Mark Layer who worked at the 2012 Olympics, and a Regional Race Officer and Judge, he also volunteers regularly at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, attends events throughout the UK and conducts Racing Rules and Race Officer courses. Friendly and approachable, he is always the first to volunteer to help people, especially if it gets them on the water. If something needs doing, Paul’s drive and enthusiasm make it happen.  

Bob Penfold, from Torquay, is another Lifetime Commitment awardwinner. Bob became a member of Royal Torbay Yacht Club (RTYC) in 2008, having previously undertaken many roles at South Cerney Sailing Club where he contributed to its development for almost two decades, serving two terms as Commodore. Always the friendly face at RTYC, Bob encourages volunteers to get involved and warmly welcomes new members. He has been a linchpin, serving in a variety of crucial roles, and as Commodore he has brought financial stability to the club, laying the foundations for its current success, which ultimately led to it being awarded RYA Club of the Year in 2019.  

Many congratulations to all of them as they receive these ‘MBEs’ for our sport – they, and other committed volunteers up and down the country, are maintaining and developing sailing clubs and keeping boating sports vibrant for future generations.