The 2023 RYA Volunteer Awards were held on Friday 10 November at One Great George Street, with 81 accolades given this year in recognition of the outstanding dedication and commitment made by volunteers of all ages and from all corners of the UK.
Christopher received an RYA Outstanding Contribution Award which recognises the exceptional commitments made by individuals at the grassroots level of the sports and activities the RYA represents.
He has been a member of Datchet Water Sailing Club (DWSC) for over 40 years, contributing to club life as a committed racer and serving on the Sailing Committee and Datchet Council.
Christopher was instrumental in installing the club’s award-winning water source heat pump system in 2016. He worked tirelessly on this innovative and challenging project, diligent in his research and methodical approach. He also managed to draw on his network of past work colleagues to help get the project over the line. His commitment was unfaltering even at times when the situation felt desperate. He has now written a user manual and completed a 3D CAD drawing of the system. More recently he rescued a large youth event by plumbing in a water pump, working late into the night to rectify a water pressure issue.
Since retirement Christopher has been Boat Park Manager. His constant efforts in keeping nature in check in the 4 acres of boat park, together with the long and strenuous job of replacing/renewing the club’s permanent tied-down security system, have been essential in taking the club forward.
Christopher said of receiving his award: “I am part of a small but growing team of volunteers at DWSC who under the guidance of the club manager, Gabrielle Boase, strive to maintain and improve the club’s facilities and support the sailors.
“I was very surprised and delighted to be told of the award and I felt honoured that I was to meet HRH The Princess Royal, who took the time and effort to chat to every one of the 81 award recipients as well as giving a talk highlighting the value that volunteers bring to the clubs.
“The RYA organisation of the event did everything to help make the day relaxed and enjoyable with an opportunity to meet other people from the volunteer community. A day to remember.”
RYA Director pays tribute
RYA Director of Sport Development Rob Clark paid tribute to the enormous impact that volunteers have in sailing and boating communities.
“It’s always so inspiring to hear of the amazing work that is happening every day, up and down the country, by volunteers right at the heart of our sport,” Rob explained.
“Whether it’s encouraging newcomers to give it a try, looking after facilities so people can get afloat safely, running weekend racing, or fundraising for equipment so more people can be introduced to the joys of being on the water – there really is a rewarding role for everyone in our communities, from teenager to octogenarian!”
“Our sport relies so much on the goodwill and skills of volunteers at every level, without whom the opportunities to get involved in boating would be greatly reduced,” said RYA CEO Sara Sutcliffe MBE.
“They are very often the first point of contact for new participants across the nations and regions, and can help to motivate a lifetime’s interest, or inspire others to train for fulfilling careers across the marine industry.
“It’s so humbling to hear of the many examples of selfless commitment our award recipients have shown – in many cases spanning decades – and they represent many thousands more who give their time to support boating in whatever way, great or small. Our grateful thanks go to them all.”
Start your volunteering journey
Volunteers form the core of RYA and club initiatives, offering rewarding opportunities and assisting others to experience the water’s numerous benefits.
With various volunteering options available, dedicating even a small amount of your time can create a significant impact. Join us and make a difference today.
Find out more about DWSC, a real hidden jewel, 15 minutes from London nestled in the shadow of Windsor Castle. It’s perfect for all classes of sailing, powerboating and training, or to just sit and enjoy the water and the views.