Royal seal of approval for four Northampton sailors

Graeme Castle will receive an RYA Lifetime Commitment Award
Graeme Castle will receive an RYA Lifetime Commitment Award

HRH The Princess Royal, President of the Royal Yachting Association, will present four Northampton sailors with two of the RYA’s most prestigious awards next week.

The award is being made in recognition of their exceptional generosity and commitment to the sport at grassroots level.

Northampton SCs John Warner

Northampton SCs John Warner

Graeme Castle (Banbury SC), John Warner (Northampton SC) and Anthony Lunch (Oxford University) will each receive an RYA Lifetime Commitment Award, 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 on Friday 16 November.

Meanwhile Andrew Rimmer (Banbury SC) will collect an RYA Outstanding Contribution Award, for individuals who have made a significant volunteer contribution either over a period of time or a ‘one-off’ effort.

Graeme, 54, has been a driving force behind the success of Boddington Reservoir-based Banbury’s junior racing section. Having served as a Senior Instructor for more than a decade, he has encouraged youngsters to take up racing and guided them as many have progressed into the RYA’s regional and national junior racing squads. To sustain this he has also developed exceptional instructor training and race coaching programmes.

Graeme said: "I am really humbled. I do what I do because I enjoy it and for me it is putting back in to the sport I have loved for years. Like in all sports there are thousands of volunteers all bringing opportunity to those who would like to take it and I'm just one. In the early days sailing was an inspiration, I enjoyed the challenge from a competitive point of view, now sailing is relaxation and this has given me the chance to help those who want get involved."

Anthony Lunch is recognised for his commitment to Oxford University

Anthony Lunch is recognised for his commitment to Oxford University

John, 87, has been a constant friendly face around Northampton SC since 1975, both as a successful racer in the GP14 class and devoting a huge amount of time and energy into maintaining the Pitsford Water site to provide the ideal environment, not only for sailing but for the wildlife. He regularly organises projects to upgrade the site’s facilities while also quietly going about a myriad of jobs behind the scenes as someone held in the highest regard.

The Eastfield man said: “Sailing has given me more than 40 years of friendly competition, lasting friendships and camaraderie while improving my own skills and helping others develop their techniques. It keeps me active and involved and I enjoy being outdoors. I get great pleasure from keeping the club site tidy and attractive for other members, old and new, and great satisfaction from seeing through projects, such as building an outdoor storage area."

Milton Malsor man, Anthony, has been a stalwart of Oxford University YC for more than 50 years, both as a student and alumnus of the University. He retired from the committee in February 2018 having ensured Oxford University YC remains the home for all Oxford sailors, irrespective of their discipline or experience within the sport.

He said: “I am extremely pleased to have been nominated and regard the award as a great honour and totally unexpected. To help and encourage youth sailing is a particular privilege and I have had enormous enjoyment from sailing, both in dinghies and keelboats over many years.”

Anthony Lunch is recognised for his commitment to Oxford University

Anthony Lunch is recognised for his commitment to Oxford University

Meanwhile, like his clubmate Graeme, Helmdon-based Andrew, 57, has had an equally big influence in opening up sailing for more local youngsters at Banbury SC, helping the club to achieve RYA OnBoard status, while he was instrumental in applying for grants, supervising the build and overseeing the renovations for Banbury’s £135,000 clubhouse, which opened last year, putting the club in a strong position to support the community into the future.

Andrew said: “I am very grateful to my colleagues at Banbury SC for the award nomination but also very humble. I understand it is to recognise the work done around the development of our clubhouse, but while I may have lead the project the reality is it was only delivered through the fantastic support and many hundreds of hours put in by all of the project team and club members."

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 winners were selected by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel.