TWO volunteer sailors from the Isle of Wight have been awarded Royal Yacht Association (RYA) awards in recognition of their exceptional dedication to boating.

Michael Smith from Seaview Yacht Club and Polly Schafer of Brading Haven Yacht Club have been recognised for their community contributions.

The sailors are among 44 ‘unsung heroes’ from across the country celebrated in the RYA Volunteer Awards 2020, which are held annually in recognition of those who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport.

Michael has received the RYA Outstanding Contribution Award.

Isle of Wight County Press: Michael Smith of Seaview Yacht ClubMichael Smith of Seaview Yacht Club

During his volunteer role as Commodore at Seaview Yacht Club from 2015 to 2018, he introduced an initiative to provide free sailing lessons to Year 5 schoolchildren from Island state primary schools.

Starting with just two schools, it has grown to a planned seven in 2021, which should provide 1,680 pupil free sessions.

Michael said: “It was a privilege to receive the award and while I acknowledge the vision was all mine, it is also important to mention those who have worked tirelessly at the club to deliver it.

“While the programme is now huge for a club of our size, it shows what can be achieved by everyone pulling together, including the generous donations and sponsorship from all who support us."

Polly Schafer has been an instrumental volunteer at Brading Haven Yacht Club from the day she joined in 2013, and has been recognised with an Outstanding Contribution Award.

Isle of Wight County Press: Polly Schafer of Brading Haven Yacht ClubPolly Schafer of Brading Haven Yacht Club

She is at the helm of Ladies that Launch, a thriving group which she continues to co-ordinate and organise.

Of her award, Polly said: “I would like to thank the RYA, it is a community award, and at Brading Haven Yacht Club we are very much a volunteer club.

“Ladies that Lunch was set up on the back of two ladies learning to sail, and since then it has flourished."