HRH The Princess Royal, President of the Royal Yachting Association, will present a Spratton sailor with one of the RYA’s most prestigious awards next week in recognition of his exceptional generosity and commitment to the sport.
John Knight will receive an 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 at One Great George Street, London on Friday 24 November.
The 83-year-old has been a familiar face at Pitsford Reservoir since the 60s, when, while a physics teacher in Northampton, he took over his school’s sailing club and then spent many years taking up to 20 16-18 year olds sailing every Wednesday after school.
Since retiring he has remained an active volunteer with Northampton Sailability, providing opportunities for people to disabilities to sail and sail regularly. As the group’s Bosun John maintains a fleet of 15 regularly used boats and all the safety equipment, while as a qualified Sailing Instructor he is also an invaluable source of advice on sailing technique.
John’s skill in repairing boats and equipment has kept people out enjoying sailing to a degree that is very often taken for granted and he was delighted when a dedicated store room and workshop was built last year so that he could do more, but get less wet!
John said: “My reaction when I found out I had won this award was ‘What did you want to do that for, but thanks for the thought!’ It’s a great honour. I looked after the school sailing club for more years than I care to remember, but I was always more of a facilitator rather than a solo sailor. I wanted others to learn and enjoy the sport. After a short rest on retirement I joined the Sailability group and most of my time is now spent keeping the fleet healthy.”
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. John was nominated for his award by his club and selected as a winner by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel.
For more information about the RYA Volunteer Awards or to find out how you can get out on the water in the Midlands visit www.rya.org.uk