NOTTINGHAMSHIRE SAILORS HONOURED BY HRH THE PRINCESS ROYAL
Two Nottinghamshire 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 (23rd November).
Notts County Sailing Club President, Russ Towns, was awarded with a Lifetime Commitment Award, while the club's Training Principal, William Stanton, received an Outstanding Contribution Award.
The pair were nominated for their awards by their sailing club 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.
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Russ, 75, has been involved in windsurfing for nearly 30 years, almost from its inception in the UK, and is recognised nationally as an ambassador of the sport. He has been inspiring sailors and windsurfers for many years in and around Nottinghamshire. Thanks to Russ Notts County SC has a strong and highly-competitive Raceboard fleet and he has also been instrumental in getting many young sailors and windsurfers to compete at high levels. He can still be seen taking part in races and showing competitors half his age how it is done.
Meanwhile, William's influence and enthusiasm has grown the club's training section from starting sailing courses to providing a pathway to the RYA's National squads while never losing sight of the fact sailing is to be enjoyed regardless of what level you are at. William's passion motivates the other instructors to provide excellent tuition and his ideas have helped the retention of members and provided many with a great reason to continue sailing. He has added courses in response to demand including improvers' and boat maintenance courses.
Russ said: "I've thoroughly enjoyed training and helping youngsters over the years, moving kit around so they can train and compete all over the place. When the East Midlands Regional Windsurfing Association became one of the first groups to rent kit to youngsters many years ago, the first rental we had was to Nick Dempsey, who became Britain's most successful ever Olympic windsurfer. It all helps the parents who are the real kingpins.
"I still get the same buzz from seeing the youngsters coming through and doing well but they all come past me now! I love still taking part though. It's just lovely for Notts County SC to be recognised with these awards."
William, who taught himself to sail "with a book in one hand and tiller in the other" aged 17 after buying one of the first Mirror dinghies, said: "The sport has brought me so much happiness. I enjoy being outside, working with the unpredictability of nature, I like meeting and helping people, and welcome new challenges.
"I've been lucky enough to have the satisfaction of seeing those I've taught from all walks of life sailing and enjoying themselves on the water. I've been greatly blessed. Sailing offers such great variety. It is possible to race at the highest level or gently potter about. It can cost the earth or a few pounds. The joy it gives is unlimited and open to all. I believe this award is as much a reflection of the efforts of the other volunteers at Notts County SC as my own."
Russ and William, 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 Russ and William'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