Two sailors from the Portsmouth area are each to be presented with one of the Royal Yachting Association’s most prestigious awards by HRH the Princess Royal, President of the RYA.

The Awards are in recognition of their commitment to their sailing clubs.  

John Wardale of Hill Head (pictured left) and Linda Vacher of Milton (right) are to both receive an RYA Lifetime Commitment Award.  The pair were selected as winners by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel and will receive their awards at the organisation’s annual awards ceremony in London on 22 November.  

The RYA is boating’s national governing body and the Volunteer Awards are considered the ‘MBEs' of the sport, honouring people throughout the UK for their outstanding contributions across all the disciplines the RYA represents, including sailing, windsurfing, motor cruising, inland waterways and personal watercraft.  

John has been a member of Hill Head Sailing Club since childhood and Honorary Harbourmaster for over 15 years. He has served on the Management Committee for 19 years, offering continuity and expert guidance. A great all-rounder, he’s the first to help members with their boat maintenance and moorings and is often seen tying down members’ dinghies and securing cruiser lines when high winds threaten.

He is an RYA Powerboat Instructor and his active participation, support and encouragement at club sailing events have contributed greatly to membership growth over the years. An active cruiser sailor, he is willing to take anyone out in his boat to experience sailing and is a key member of the club’s RYA Push the Boat Out team. The epitome of a volunteer, he is held in extremely high regard.  

John says of his Award: “I had no idea that my name had been put forward and it came as a complete shock when I realised that I had won the Award.  I do what I do for the Club because I enjoy it, but it is always nice to feel appreciated.  The Club is run entirely by volunteers and always has been.  It is good to know that the RYA appreciate the work we put in to keep Clubs like ours running and bringing more people into the sport.”

Linda joined Tudor Sailing Club in 1995 and became Dinghy Captain within a couple of years, running club dinghy cruises and making sure that people were introduced to each other and got involved. Later, she took on the onerous job of Compound Bosun, organising the dinghy compound, and for the last six years she has been a club Trustee, attending not only Executive Committee meetings but also Bosun’s Committee meetings.

For several years she has been ‘Crewco’ for the club’s cruiser launch and recovery weekends, effectively organising all the members who are driving tractors and RIBs, or handling boats in the water and the compound, as well as sorting out crews for the boats being launched and recovered. Linda gives her all to TSC, helping wherever she can and offering new ideas.  

"I am honoured to receive this Award,” says Linda. “It is a pleasure to assist children and adults who start or return to sailing in lovely Langstone Harbour and the Solent.  I am one of many members who give time to support and run the Tudor SC."

More information about the RYA Volunteer Awards.   

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