The event, hosted by RYA President, The Princess Royal, celebrates both long-standing and younger volunteers with awards recognising all those who have contributed to the sport and made an impact in their communities across the UK.
A number of Scots included in this years awards, include lifetime achievements for Hamish Louden of Lochaber Yacht Club alongside Arlene and John McNeilage of Cove Sailing Club. Claire Watson of Cove was also recognised in receiving a Young Volunteer Award.
Hamish Louden of Lochaber Yacht Club gained a Lifetime Achievement Award having been involved with Lochaber Yacht Club (LYC) since it was established in 1954, initially as a Sea Cadet affiliated to the club and subsequently on returning to the area to command the Naval base at Kyle. He has served as Commodore three times and has been involved in many major club building projects.
On receiving the award Hamish said.
“I was astounded, quite out of the blue. Bit of good fortune I suppose, like anyone else after a lifetime sailing it’s a bit of surprise when somebody notices.”
An RYA Coach Examiner, he has spent many years as Principal of the LYC training programme and has actively encouraged other west Scotland clubs to establish junior programmes. He is also a director of the Fort William Marina & Shoreline Community Interest Company. He was instrumental in establishing the Thursday Club Night, where he still teaches, offering new members the opportunity to gain sailing experience and an introduction to racing. He also established the Thursday Club where members carry out maintenance and repairs to facilities and boats.
“The volunteers are the very core of sailing activity, and without volunteers the structure would collapse. The hundreds of clubs are run by volunteers, they are the very crux of sport.”
Hamish frequently makes one of his boats available to others to participate in racing. He constantly inspires people to start sailing and his teaching in dinghies and keelboats is second to none.
“Sailing has long been an adventure and long may that continue.” concluded Hamish.
Arlene and John McNeilage of Cove Sailing Club also received a Lifetime Achievement Award as dedicated volunteers at Cove Sailing Club. Arlene has run the cadet training scheme for over 20 years and John has been involved since he was a boy, serving in several roles on the committee, including Commodore. Arlene is the most patient of instructors with a positive and giving mindset. The children learn to sail with her in a safe and friendly environment, while having fun and grow into confident and competent young sailors. Cadets that were once trained by her have now returned to help her run sessions. As Commodore, John pushed for the planning of a new clubhouse and has spearheaded the fundraising. He encourages others to participate in events on and off the water, has maintained the clubhouse and organised work parties. He has also become a volunteer to the charity Autism on the Water, helping to develop their racing skills.
Arlene and John have shown continued commitment to the club with hours of hard work, always providing input and guidance.
Claire Watson also of Cove Sailing Club received a Young Volunteer Award. Claire has been a member of the Cove Sailing Club since she was an eight-year-old cadet. She learnt to sail at the club and went on to volunteer and assist in a wide range of activities. Now 22, for the past few years, she has actively supported the founder of the charity Autism on the Water to help provide access to the sport for people who are on the autistic spectrum. She has also been an inspiration on the charity’s 707 class boat, developing the sailors’ racing and competing skills, all while continuing to support the club and gain her degree in physical education. Claire has no fear of trying something new and shows persistence, energy and enthusiasm. She has been an asset to the club as an all-rounder, helping to train new cadets, managing equipment, events, maintenance and passing on her knowledge of sailing to people of all ages. She also has great ideas to encourage the growth of the club.
Congratulations to all the volunteers recognised across the country and look out for the 2023 Volunteer Awards which will open in for nominations in the new year.
For further details about the RYA Volunteer Awards visit here.