A BLACKWATER Sailing Club volunteer has been awarded one of the Royal Yachting Association’s most prestigious awards.

Sheena Berney, from Maldon, is one of some 44 volunteers who have been celebrated across the UK for their dedication in boating.

The Royal Yachting Association’s (RYA) Volunteer Awards recognise and thank 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.

The awards are divided into four categories; RYA Awards, RYA Community Awards, The Francis Elkin Award and, new for 2020, the RYA Honor Preston Award.

This year some winners will be presented with their awards at small presentations held at their sailing venues, whilst others receive them from the safety of their homes.

Sheena was nominated for an Outstanding Contribution Award and selected as a winner by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel.

Sheena has been an active member of Blackwater Sailing Club for almost 40 years, where she is currently membership secretary, and has brought in more than 100 new members each year and organised the club’s annual open day.

The club says she has played a major part in the design and organisation of the club’s recent rebuild.

As an enthusiastic fleet captain for the sprite class, she has also been one of the driving forces keeping this historic class active.

She has also been heavily involved in the N18 class, helping to run their national championships in 2018.

An experienced race officer, Sheena runs club racing and open meetings and also assists with a variety of social events at the club.

On receiving the award, Sheena said: “I was surprised and thrilled to receive an award for helping members of our club to enjoy the wonderful sport of sailing."

She was presented with her award by RYA east region chair Doug MacEwen at a ceremony at Blackwater Sailing Club, which coincided with the official opening of the club's new wing by Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Jennifer Tolhurst.

Doug said: “The outstanding achievement award was most appropriate as Sheena was repeatedly thanked in speeches throughout the ceremony.

"In her capacity as rear commodore, she was linked to the success of the new building project of the wing being opened."

In her speech Mrs Tolhurst referred to the sailing club as being widely recognised during its history for its strong volunteering achievements.

Club commodore, Nigel Butler added: “It was particularly fitting that this presentation was made on the day of our clubhouse opening ceremony since Sheena had done more than anybody to make the whole day a fantastic success attended by over 170 members.”

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