RYA award for Sevenoaks unsung hero
RYA award for Sevenoaks unsung hero

A sailor and volunteer from Sevenoaks has been presented with one of the RYA’s most prestigious awards in recognition of his commitment to Chipstead Sailing Club. Robert (Rob) Daws has received a Lifetime Commitment Award.

Traditionally taking place at an awards ceremony in London, the RYA Volunteer Awards recognise and say ‘thank you’ to volunteers who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport with recipients nominated by their sailing clubs, class associations and members of the boating community. This year due to the ongoing pandemic, winners were presented with their awards at small presentations held at their sailing venues or the safety of their homes.

Rob was presented at Chipstead Sailing Club by Ian Walker, MBE, the President of the club and Director of Racing at the RYA. Ian himself sailed at Chipstead from the age of 8 and attended Sevenoaks School, before establishing his racing career.

Rob’s father was an early member of the club from 1953 and Rob started sailing at Chipstead in 1954 with his sister and other friends. He became a full member in 1956 and has been a member ever since.

In the 64 years since joining, Rob has actively covered many of the volunteer duties carried out by members. In the early days he was active in numerous jobs required of a fledgling club, but as the club grew, with an increasing number of members, greater organisation was required so Rob became Sailing Secretary for five years on two separate occasions, which entailed scheduling the races and the duties of the race officers.

From 1991 to 2004 he was the Commodore, a down to earth leader, overseeing the period when membership of many sailing clubs began to wane, but with his thoughtful guidance leading the General Committee, Chipstead maintained a high membership, enjoying the benefits of a greatly improved clubhouse and an increase in the size of the lake.

Rob is still active in the club as a Trustee and Vice President, and also regularly racing in his Laser, leaving many younger racers in his wake.

Rob said: “On hearing about the award I was very surprised but delighted. None of the roles I have occupied could have been done without the support of many people and this award is as much for them as for me. I have enjoyed my sailing and hope to have a few more years in the sport.”

Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive added: “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”.

In addition to presenting Rob’s award Ian Walker, a winner of multiple European and World Championships, holder of two Olympic medals, who has competed in two Americas Cups and won the 2014 Volvo Round the World race, spent time with the junior sailors at the club, both coaching out on the water and giving hints and tips while ashore. Many of the Juniors will have had a morning to remember.

Find out more about the RYA Volunteer Awards and Chipstead Sailing Club