Volunteers recognised at RYA Sailability Conference

Some 110 delegates from Sailability groups across the country attended the 6th annual Sailability Conference and dinner (Wyboston Lakes, Bedfordshire on 16 February) where the winners of the 2013 RYA Sailability Volunteer Awards were announced.  

The RYA Sailability Volunteer Awards recognise the priceless voluntary contribution by Sailability volunteers. They are awarded in four categories Significant Contribution, Outstanding Contribution, Exceptional Contribution and new for 2013 the Youth Volunteer Award.

The Significant Contribution Award was presented to Stephanie Nash who was described as a loyal and committed member of Lymington Sailability. Her nomination states that she gives a lot of encouragement to the sailors who need it and is a great ambassador for the group.

The Outstanding Contribution Award went to Jacqui Soards from Waveney Sailability. After joining in 2005 she combined her love for sailing with her interest in building the confidence of stroke survivors, filling every minute of her ‘retirement’ with Sailability. Jacqui has been appointed as a Director of the Waveney Sailability Trust and constantly devotes her time to those less fortunate.

David Hall from Blackwell Sailability was presented with the Exceptional Contribution Award recognising commitment and dedication over a ten year period or more. David has been involved in Sailability since the inception of Blackwell over a decade ago and since has built an amazing team of people and supporters. Thanks to his dedication, participants will travel miles to sail at Blackwater Sailability.

“I was delighted to receive the award. I think it is fantastic to be able to bring something back to Cumbria as we have such a strong team of over 30 volunteers who help with all aspects of the site. It feels really good and I am chuffed to be recognised”.

Jenna Tood from Belfast Lough Sailability was named winner of the Youth Volunteer Award acknowledging her positive attitude, willingness to learn and her ability to inspire others around her.

The dinner also welcomed guest speakers, 15 year old Natasha Lambert and her family. Natasha has Athertoid Cerebral Palsy which affects all her limbs and her speech. She started sailing just two years ago and shared her incredible experience of sailing around the Isle of Wight in her Artemis 20 ‘Miss Isle’ which she sails with her mouth using a sip/puff technique to operate the rudder.

Earlier in the day, delegates were treated to a variety of guest speakers at conference including Adam Blaze, Sport England’s Strategic Lead on Disability and a presentation on the Paralympic Inspiration Pathway by 2016 hopeful Alex Hovden.

Interactive workshop sessions took place after lunch with four different topics available to attend including fundraising and awareness, safety guidance, sailing adaptions and practical tips and accessible powerboating by Suzuki.

There were also new one-to-one ‘clinic’ sessions which gave delegates the chance to meet key members of the RYA and receive expert advice.

Debbie Blachford, RYA Sailability Manager said: “Thank you to all the delegates who attended this year’s conference, we saw the highest turnout in three years. It’s wonderful to see so many people involved with Sailability coming together and being able to get up to date with the latest advice and information”.

For more information about RYA Sailability visit the RYA website.