A DEDICATED Himley Hall Sailing Club volunteer has been presented with a prestigious national award by HRH the Princess Royal, president of the Royal Yachting Association, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the sport.

Tony Sutton, aged 61, of Kingswinford, received a Lifetime Commitment Award at a glittering awards ceremony at One Great George Street in London.

Tony Sutton receives his RYA Volunteer Award from HRH The Princess Royal, Pic by Paul Wyeth

Tony Sutton receives his RYA Volunteer Award from HRH The Princess Royal, Pic by Paul Wyeth

The 61-year-old has been involved with the sailing club for 20 years - having served on its training team and as membership secretary, trustee, newsletter editor and for 12 of the last 13 years as Commodore.

He also supports junior and youth training and has helped to establish curriculum sailing lessons for secondary schools in the area.

Tony said: “Shortly after I started at Himley Hall SC I had to take ill health retirement and had time on my hands so thought I’d put a bit of effort into supporting the club, started doing a few jobs and found myself becoming Commodore. I enjoy volunteering and especially working with the youngsters because if you can get them sailing, it’s a way of keeping the club vibrant. It’s great to see them developing their skills and several have gone on to become dinghy instructors themselves which is really rewarding.”

The awards ceremony was a fantastic occasion, he said, and he told how HRH The Princess Royal had been fascinated by a picture of Himley Hall SC’s unusual clubhouse, which was displayed on the big screen when Tony went up on stage.

Himley Hall Sailing Clubs club house. Pic - Himley Hall SC

Himley Hall Sailing Club's club house. Pic - Himley Hall SC

He added: “Our clubhouse is the thatched former boat house of the Earl of Dudley. He used to keep a steam boat in there and we now have a teaching room downstairs and galley upstairs.”

Nominating Tony for the award, the club’s citation highlighted his “calm demeanour and sense of humour” and his generous giving of time to projects, activities and events.

The RYA is boating’s national governing body and 50 awards were presented this year to celebrate long-standing volunteers and committed youngsters from across the UK.

Rob Clark, RYA director of sport development, said: “2021 has been another challenging year for sailing organisations with outdoor activity restarting and restrictions slowly lifting. More than ever volunteers are the backbone of our clubs and the wider boating community, and every single award winner has made an impact by sacrificing their time and expertise so others can enjoy being on the water. It’s a pleasure to recognise their achievements.”

Himley Hall SC is an RYA Recognised Training Centre and has RYA OnBoard accreditation for its youth and junior sailing.

The family friendly club has a series of taster days planned for Easter 2022 and people can find out more about the club at https://hhsc.weebly.com/