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Northern Ireland Sailors Celebrate RYA Awards

26th November 2019
RYANI Chair Jackie Patton, Abbie Brown and Graham Skelton RYANI Chair Jackie Patton, Abbie Brown and Graham Skelton

Three volunteers from Northern Ireland are celebrating as their efforts were recognised by Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal at RYA’s Volunteer Awards held in London on Friday 22 November, to reward hard-working volunteers from all over the UK for their outstanding contribution to sailing and boating.

David Nelson from Ballyholme Yacht Club received a Lifetime Commitment Award, Graham Skelton from Carrickfergus Sailing Club collected an Outstanding Contribution Award and Abbie Brown from Donaghadee Sailing Club was given a Youth Award.

Chair of RYANI Jackie Patton said: “It was an honour to attend this event on behalf of RYANI. We wish to congratulate Abbie, Graham and David who deserve recognition for their dedication and service to the sport”.

David Nelson’s lifetime commitment award was for his 30 years’ service to the sport. He has competed in Regional and National events and served as a National Judge and holds Coach Assessor accreditation. He brings a wealth of experience into his volunteering at BYC, where he has recently demonstrated his instruction and leadership qualities by overseeing the Dolphin and Shark programme, creating a very positive learning environment that has led to a significant increase in cadet members and vibrant youth sailing extending into the Autumn. He is also Club Bosun, taking on this crucial role keeping an extensive training dinghy fleet safe and fit for purpose.

Graham Skelton from Carrickfergus Sailing Club (CSC) received an Outstanding Contribution award. As Groundsman, he looks after the maintenance of the club grounds and he has also taken on the responsibility of Club Bosun. Graham and his team pay meticulous attention to repairs and maintenance of the club’s fleet of safety boats, and to clubhouse interior. A qualified RYA Powerboat Instructor, he has helped members to gain Powerboat Level 1 and 2 qualifications and he is an integral part of the safety support boat rota, probably doing more than his fair share of volunteering for this task. He has successfully trained junior members for the Honda Youth RIB Championship.

Abbie Brown from Donaghadee Sailing Club (DSC) received a Youth Award. In her role as Junior Commodore and Assistant Instructor at DSC, Abbie devotes many hours of her time to organising junior events and teaching sailing. In addition, she supports the senior committee meetings by representing the juniors and reporting on the many varied junior events being organised both on and off the water. 

Recently selected for the Northern Ireland Laser Performance Squad, her enthusiasm for sailing has impacted the community. This year, she helped to re-fashion, organise and promote the club’s Bright Night Sailing Programme, which was oversubscribed. She has taught many children to sail, helped with rescue boat cover and organised a tuck shop. The result of her enthusiasm and infectious love of sailing has been a remarkable increase in the younger members’ participation in regular club racing. Her most outstanding achievement this year was the organisation of the DSC Junior Regatta.

Nominations are now invited for the 2020 RYA Volunteer Awards. For more information visit here

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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