Three Lincolnshire sailors were presented with two of the Royal Yachting Association's most prestigious awards by HRH the Princess Royal, President of the RYA, at the organisation's annual awards ceremony at London's One Great George Street on Friday.
Hykeham Sailing Club stalwart, Peter Bayliss, was awarded with a Lifetime Commitment Award, while Hykeham Sailability chairman, Keven Roberts, received an Outstanding Contribution Award, the same award also presented to Witham Sailing Club's Paul Burton.
The trio were nominated for their awards by their sailing clubs and selected as winners by the Awards panel. A total of 56 voluntary awards were presented to winners hailing from across the UK from as far afield as Cornwall to Argyll.
Peter, who started sailing in the RAF 50 years ago before joining the Lindum Sailing Club, one of two clubs that amalgamated to form Hykeham SC, in 1982, can still be found at the club more days than not. His great and continuing contribution can't be underestimated. He has been involved in most club activities, including the ongoing relationship with the RYA East Midlands Regional Committee, and is presently the club's Training Officer and Bosun.
Despite not being a sailor himself, Keven set-up Hykeham Sailability from scratch in 2009 to provide sailing opportunities for disabled people around Lincolnshire. He has secured many tens of thousands of pounds of funding, inspired and trained numerous volunteers and worked tirelessly to establish what is now a thriving vibrant Sailability group. Keven's work has enabled a new group of disabled sailors to access the freedom of sailing.
Meanwhile, when Witham SC was in danger of closing a few years ago Paul led the remaining members in devising a club development plan to turn the situation around. He led the club in organising open days, recruitment events and kick started the social programme. He put himself through the Senior Instructor course so the club could become an RYA Training Centre and has also organised the club's grant applications. The club is now in a far stronger position than in previous years.
Peter said: "I get tremendous satisfaction in teaching newcomers to sail safely. As well as still sailing and racing I organise the club training programme and assist with the Lincoln and District Sailing Association, which teaches sailing to schoolchildren, and run the Lincolnshire Junior Sailing Championships. Sailing is a good way to meet and make new friends, with friendly competition. It's a great outdoor sport. It is nice to know the RYA appreciates the effort and commitment put in by all volunteers. I consider this award pride in what I've achieved over the years."
Keven said: "For our disabled sailors the sport provides an opportunity to be independent when so often they are very dependent on others. When a sailor spends a large part of the week in pain and in bed it is humbling to see them enjoying a sail or the young blind man who goes out independently in a boat leaving his guide dog waiting for him on the shore. When we set out we had no boats, no equipment, no sailing expertise, no volunteers and no potential Sailability members. We are now a fully affiliated Sailability club with boats, equipment, a senior instructor and other experienced sailors and regular members with disabilities and volunteers. This award is recognition of all the work our volunteers put in each week to enable there to be Sailability in Lincolnshire."
Peter, Keven and Paul, along with the other RYA Award winners, enjoyed a celebratory lunch in the presence of HRH the Princess Royal and were presented with a commemorative medallion and certificate each.
Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive says "The RYA is delighted to make this award in recognition of Peter, Keven and Paul's enthusiasm, promotion of our sport and many years' contribution to the East Midlands' boating scene. The 56 RYA winners are an inspiration to us all and it is my pleasure to recognise and celebrate their hard work and dedication."
For more information about sailing in the East Midlands visit www.rya.org.uk/regions/eastmidlands