Dedicated sailing club members from Yorkshire have been recognised for their exceptional contribution to the sport in the 2023 Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Volunteer Awards.

The RYA is the sport’s national governing body and a total of 81 accolades were given this year to volunteers of all ages from across the UK to celebrate their dedication and commitment to sailing and boating.

The awards were presented by the Princess Royal, RYA president, in a ceremony at One Great George Street in London.

Within the RYA Community Awards category for those supporting the grassroots of the sport were: Chris Wright and Jamie and Nicky Kerslake of Ripon Sailing Club, Vince Grealy of Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club and John Mellor of the UK Wayfarer Association and Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club.

Mr Wright received a Lifetime commitment award. He has been a member of Ripon Sailing Club, near Knaresborough, for more than two decades. As club secretary for many years, his input was critical to ensuring the club’s survival.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Chris Wright Picture: Ripon SC

In its citation for the award, the club added: “Chris is unstinting in his efforts to support and encourage both new and existing members. Offering advice, both to the committee and other members as required, he also manages the club’s extensive trophy collection. Chris shows little sign of slowing down, remaining active both on and off the water.”

Darlington and Stockton Times: Chris Wright receives his RYA Volunteer Award Picture: Paul Wyeth, RYA

Mr Wright, of Wetherby, said: "I’ve always tried to volunteer because like any club it relies on its members to keep things going.”

The joint outstanding contribution award went to keen sailors Jamie and Nicky Kerslake, of York. Between them they have sacrificed a huge amount of their own time on the water to benefit Ripon Sailing Club and its members.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Jamie and Nicky Kerslake receive their RYA Volunteer Award Picture: Paul Wyeth, RYA

Mr Kerslake, who is currently Rear Commodore, said the couple were “delighted and humbled” to be nominated for the award, adding: “Our volunteering journey now continues along a different path with the club, but we remain committed to the future of our sport and club, as do many others such as Chris who put in countless volunteer hours – it is a team effort.”

Vince Grealy, who was presented with an RYA volunteer award for outstanding contribution, joined Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club, based at Grimwith Reservoir, near Pateley Bridge, as a windsurfing member in 2016 and two years later volunteered to redesign the website to help to promote and grow the club. He also trained as a windsurfing instructor, joining the training team and club management committee.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Vince Grealy receives his RYA Volunteer Award Picture: Paul Wyeth, RYA

Mr Grealy, who lives in Harrogate, said: “The award was a surprise and it’s lovely to be recognised. I got involved with the website because I thought I could do it and it was an opportunity to take something that was broken and fix it.”

John Mellor, a fellow member of Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club, received a lifetime commitment award in recognition of his exceptional commitment to the UK Wayfarer Association (UKWA).

Darlington and Stockton Times: John Mellor receives his RYA Volunteer Award Picture: Paul Wyeth, RYA

Wayfarer dinghies can be used for racing, cruising and family sailing, and Mr Mellor's many roles with the class association have included serving as chair, cruising secretary, e-news editor and, since 2009, rules and technical chair. An honorary life member, he organises a popular annual family festival and particularly enjoys providing training and sharing his cruising skills, including leading flotillas in locations like Scotland and the Lakes.

Mr Mellor, who lives in Wetherby and describes himself as a young 75, said: “I’m an always looking forward and never back sort of person and the Wayfarer is a very capable boat which takes me on adventures.”