Dedicated volunteer highlights the benefit of giving back to sport

Dave Nelson from Ballyholme Yacht Club has been sailing for around 40 years and has played a key role as a volunteer.


David is standing in a club safety boat on the water with the Bangor shoreline in the background and two volunteers in the front of the shop.

Dave explains: “My dad first fixed up an old mirror and then made several for me to race at local national and international levels.

“My first volunteering was at the club on our Wednesday night cadet sessions helping out afloat. I think the main reason for volunteering is to give something back to the sport I love. I also find this very rewarding, most of the time!”

After helping out at his local club, Dave then helped to run the sailing club at his University. He says: “I would help run race for the other teams when our team was finished. I had completed by RYA Dinghy Instructor as a teen and when I returned home from university I continued to help out on courses and in particular with youth sailing and racing.”

For Dave, volunteering is very rewarding. He comments: “There would be a number of things that I find very rewarding. Getting new sailors to the stage where they can sail independently is always fulfilling, especially if you have worked with them from when they were a novice.

“It has also been great to see the fleets at Ballyholme, my local yacht club, grow in numbers. We now have active topper, feva and 29er fleets to complement the established senior fleets. Finally, any of these awards are a reflection of all the other volunteers that come forward to help out which is also very gratifying when you see other parents or club members put themselves forward to engage with the tasks at hand.”

A former RYANI award winner, Dave says it was extremely humbling. He has some advice for others thinking of taking up sailing and volunteering. He says: “My advice for anyone thinking of taking up sailing would be to get in touch with your local club or centre. Sailing is lifetime sport, there are sailors in our club who are still very young, but we also have active sailors in their seventies and beyond who have been sailors all their lives.

“For those thinking of volunteering, you are always appreciated, and the myriad of RYA courses and qualifications make becoming proficient in lots of areas of volunteering very achievable, from safety boat driving to running or officiating at events to event just helping out the youth sailors by keeping records and organising ashore.”

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