Two volunteer sailors from the Isle of Wight – Michael Smith from Sea View Yacht Club and Polly Schafer from Brading Haven Yacht Club – have been awarded prestigious national RYA awards and Michael Smith has been recognised with an RYA Outstanding Contribution Award.
As commodore of the club from 2015 to 2018 he introduced a major initiative to provide free sailing lessons to Year 5 schoolchildren on the Isle of Wight. Beginning with just two schools in the first year, the scheme has grown to seven schools planned for 2021, which should provide 1680 pupil sessions of three hours each.
Michael said: “I was honoured and it was a privilege to receive the award and while I acknowledge that the vision was all mine, it is also important to acknowledge all those who have worked tirelessly at the club to deliver it.”
Polly Schafer, of Brading Haven Yacht Club, has volunteered at the club from the day she joined in 2013, and has been recognised with an Outstanding Contribution Award.
Polly launched ‘Ladies that Launch’ – a thriving group which she continues to co-ordinate and organise. Through the initiative, members regularly sail, socialise and develop firm friendships for life. By encouraging female beginners and improvers, the group is also attracting new members to the club.
Having also picked up the lead for the Cadets section, Polly and a small team of volunteers provide the club’s youth sailors with monthly onshore activities throughout the year.
Polly said: “I would like to thank the RYA. It is a community award, and at Brading Haven Yacht Club we are very much a volunteer club, but I couldn’t do any of this without the support of the volunteers here at the club.”