Award-winning South Staffordshire Sailors have Royal Appointment

HRH The Princess Royal, President of the Royal Yachting Association, will present five South Staffordshire sailors with two of the RYA’s most prestigious awards this month, in recognition of their exceptional generosity and commitment to the sport.

South Staffordshire Sailing Club’s Steve and Lynn Baker, from Lichfield, and Blithfield Sailing Club’s Margaret and Bill Boyson, will receive RYA Lifetime Commitment Awards, for individuals who have shown exceptional commitment and dedication to their club or organisation for at least 15 years, at the RYA’s annual awards ceremony at One Great George Street, London on Friday 24 November.

Meanwhile, the Baker’s South Staffs’ club mate, Kamila Czartolomna, who turns 17 later this month, will collect an RYA Youth Award, for individuals under 25 who have demonstrated a regular commitment and/or inspirational contribution over-and-above their own participation or achievement within the sport.

Steve, 69, and Lynn, 67, have been hands on at Gailey-based South Staffs for 42 years. Steve, a Powerboat Instructor, is still the club’s Bosun and has introduced a number of systems to keep the club’s boats – power and sailing – in good working order to enhance people’s enjoyment and convenience, while Lynn has worked with the junior training team and helped to organise numerous social events, open meetings and high-profile regattas.

Steve said: “We were amazed when told about the award as we didn’t think we had done anything exceptional. We were both brought up around boats, me on the Norfolk Broads and Lynn on the Thames at Surbiton, so having met as part of University of Birmingham sailing team in 1968 it’s continued to be part of our life. We encouraged our sons to get involved too and have always found it to be an excellent sport to involve all the generations of families.”

Margaret and Bill joined Blithfield SC, in Abbots Bromley, in 1984 and have made an immeasurable contribution to club life. As well as maintaining all the club boats as Bosun for 17 years, Bill, now 88, introduced its pontoon and mooring systems and has even mowed the lawn, while Margaret, 80, has held virtually every official role at the club and transformed club record keeping and communications.

Margaret said: “Sailing has given us so much fun, challenge, companionship, purpose, satisfaction and modest achievement. We were amazed when we heard we had won this award. The club had already honoured us with Honorary Life Membership in 2008 so we felt humble and undeserving of something so nationally special.”

Having learned to sail aged seven, and developed as a talented dinghy sailor, Kamila has barely been out of the local headlines since becoming the first girl in 10 years to win a national Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship powerboat driving title in 2014. In total the Wolgarston High School A-Level student has won a record-breaking four Honda RYA Youth RIB trophies and continues racing dinghies against adults at her club too.

She said: “Sailing and powerboating have been very character building and have led me to meet so many great new people, also making me a more rounded and confident individual. They have helped me face challenges and learn new skills. Most importantly I really enjoy doing them and hope to be involved in the sport for life. It is really an honour to represent the club and accept this award. I was very surprised and wasn’t expecting it at all!”

The RYA is boating’s national governing body and the Volunteer Awards are considered the ‘MBEs’ of the sport, honouring people throughout the UK for their outstanding contributions across all the disciplines the RYA represents, including sailing, windsurfing, powerboating, inland waterways and personal watercraft. The Bakers, Boysons and Kamila were nominated by their clubs and selected as winners by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel.

For more information about the RYA Volunteer Awards or to find out how you can get out on the water in the Midlands visit www.rya.org.uk