Sailing volunteers to be recognised by royalty

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Posted 17th November 2017

Dedicated volunteers from South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire are to be presented with Royal Yachting Association awards by HRH The Princess Royal at a ceremony in London.

The RYA Volunteer Awards recognise the outstanding contribution of sailors nominated by their clubs or associations in appreciation of their commitment and services to the sport.

This year’s honours will be presented by Princess Anne, president of the RYA, at a ceremony to be held at One Great George Street, Westminster, on Friday 24 November,  where recipients will include three members of Ulley Sailing Club, which is located between Rotherham and Sheffield, and Susan Haigh, of Green Withens Watersports Centre.

Stephen Butler will be presented an RYA Community Award for Lifetime Commitment after serving in a variety of capacities since joining the club more than 25 years ago, from House Steward to Commodore. He has also been a keen advocate for youth sailing through the Yorkshire and Humberside Youth Sailing Association and National Schools Sailing Association events.

The retired steel industry scientist from Rotherham said: “It has been very satisfying and enjoyable to have been part of the team that enables people of all ages from all backgrounds to enjoy dinghy sailing at Ulley.”

Also earning an RYA Community Award for Lifetime Commitment is club member David Rowlands, who came into the sport sailing GP14 dinghies and has been involved with the International GP14 Class Association since 1976, including as Vice President, Treasurer and President. David is currently chairman of the Technical and Rules Committee, and has  also served on RYA regional committees.

Now aged 70, the retired steel industry metallurgist from Sheffield is an Honorary Life Member of the GP14 association. He said: “With my background in working on the technical side of the steel industry, being part of the association has kept me involved with sailing and it’s been something where I have the skills to make a contribution.”

David Staniforth will be presented an RYA Award for his contribution to boating and the RYA at a regional level, having served in a number of key committee roles at Ulley Sailing Club and also as chair of the RYA’s Regional Committee. He sails an Enterprise dinghy and has been the North East Area Representative of the class for many years, including Commodore for two, and also enjoys introducing youngsters to sailing and racing.

Explaining his enthusiasm for sailing, the retired technology teacher from Rotherham recalls how when one family visited Ulley, the dad spotted his 11-year-old son having an informed discussion with a 65-year-old and a 42-year-old about a right-of-way incident on the water: “I can’t think of another sport where you get this mix of generations all working on a level and that also includes boys and girls. I think it’s a great sport.”

Green Withens is the West Yorkshire Scouts Watersports Centre situated between Ripponden and Denshaw. Susan, whose dedication to the organisation spans more than four decades, will receive an RYA Community Award for Lifetime Commitment.

Susan volunteered to take on the roles of Booking Secretary and Treasurer of Huddersfield Scout Sailing in 1972 and today at Green Withens still looks after the bookings and finances. She is also an RYA Dinghy Senior Instructor, RYA First Aid Instructor and Sailability Disability Awareness Trainer, and co-ordinator of the Green Withens OnBoard club for junior sailors.

The retired teacher from Huddersfield, who is a Guide Leader for the town’s Golcar Guides, is passionate about getting all ages on the water, and seeing children learn not just sailing but also developing life skills such as team work and confidence.

She said: “It’s rewarding to see kids come through and improve and move on to other things – it expands their Scouting and Guiding and they get a lot out of their sailing.”

More than 50 volunteers from across the country will be honoured in this year’s RYA Volunteer Awards.

If you’d like to find out more about how to get on the water with a local sailing club, visit www.rya.org.uk/go/startboating   

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