Simon Thompson received the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Outstanding Contribution Award at the 2016 RYA Volunteer Awards which are considered the MBEs of the sport and celebrate individuals who have made a significant volunteer impact.
He was one among 44 people from across Britain to be honoured for their generosity and commitment to boating at the ceremony held at One Great George Street, Westminster.
Simon got his first taste of the sport through Covenham Watersports Association’s ‘Access 2 Watersports’ programme and was soon competing in the RYA’s Team15 regional grassroots windsurfing events.
He then qualified as an instructor to introduce more youths, adults and people with disabilities to the sport.
At 19, Simon became an RYA senior instructor and Covenham’s chief instructor and believes he has worked with at least 2,000 people, introducing them to sailing and windsurfing through Covenham SC and Lincolnshire Scouts.
Simon said: “I don’t do anything alone. Everything achieved is down to a massive team working behind the scenes and I hope those I work with realise just how grateful I am for all the hard work and that we couldn’t do anything with them.
“To have the recognition we make a difference is a fantastic feeling.
“When sailing you are in complete control, while some of my most memorable times were camping out by beautiful lakes the night before the Team15 windsurfing competitions.
“This gave me my first true introduction to team spirit, camaraderie and competition, and what a thrill it was to win prizes and do well against others.
“I have made great friends and relationships from being involved in the sports.
Simon was nominated by his club and selected as a winner by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel.
He was one of only nine to receive the outstanding contribution honour from Princess Anne.
“On Wednesday evenings we have 20 to 30 kids turn up on the water and to watch them progress and develop, starting out nervous as anything on the water and then actually going on to become confident, lively, engaging instructors themselves, you can see the difference you’ve made.
“I owe sailing a debt of gratitude as it has helped me develop myself both personally and professionally.”
* For more information about how to get out on the water in the Midlands, visit www.rya.org.uk/go/startboating