A COUPLE who have spent 50 years volunteering for a Dudley sailing club have been recognised for their dedication with an award.
Volunteers Ray and Pat West helped found Himley Hall Sailing Club which is currently celebrating its half century anniversary.
They are still valued members now and are on the club’s management committee.
Ray, 84, and Pat, 79, have been awarded a joint Community Award for Lifetime Commitment from the Royal Yachting Association.
They were among 44 unsung heroes from across the UK celebrated in the RYA Volunteer Awards 2020, which are held annually to say thank you’to those who have made an outstanding contribution to boating.
In nominating Ray and Pat for the award, the club said: “As founder members of Himley Hall Sailing Club, which is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, Ray and Pat bring valued in-depth knowledge and continuity to club operations, while remaining open to new ideas and initiatives.
“Both Pat and Ray remain on the Management Committee today.
“They are particularly keen on helping youngsters develop in the sport and are often seen at the lakeside passing on tips.”
Ray, a retired quantity surveyor, has had various roles at the club, including treasurer and commodore, and as a RYA Dinghy Instructor for 34 years has taught hundreds to sail, including his own family.
Pat has always been a key member of the social committee, fundraising for the club and the RNLI, and has given countless hours helping with catering, facilities and the day-to-day running of the club.
The couple donated their own dinghy to the club’s youth section when they were no longer fit enough to sail themselves.
Ray said: “We really appreciate it and are proud to represent Himley Hall Sailing Club.
“We’ve enjoyed the lovely location and the people and the friendliness of the club.
“It’s always been a very family-friendly club and we’re both still on the main committee and like to help out when we can.”
There is usually a glittering RYA Volunteer Awards ceremony in London but this year, due to the ongoing pandemic, the awards have been presented to volunteers at their local sailing clubs or during online gatherings from the safety of home.
Himley Hall SC members gathered there for a socially distanced presentation, along with representatives from the RYA Midlands regional team, to celebrate Ray and Pat’s award before the latest lockdown.
Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive, said: “This year more than ever before we have seen our club volunteers come together and work tirelessly to ensure members can continue to sail.
“The generosity and dedication of each of the RYA Volunteer Award recipients is simply outstanding and it’s a pleasure to be able to recognise these winners through this award.”