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Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Newcomer of The Year

by Karenza Morton 10 Nov 2015 10:40 GMT 4 November 2015
Alex Gruber receives his Newcomer of the Year Award from Sue Finnigan © SASSOT

A Rudyard Lake Sailing Club teen who is blazing a trail to get more youngsters into the sport has been named Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Newcomer of The Year 2015.

Alex Gruber, 17, received his award at the Sport Across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (SASSOT) Community Sports Awards presentation evening at Staffordshire County Council's Oak Room on Wednesday 4 November in recognition of his efforts as a volunteer dinghy instructor at Rudyard Lake SC, near Leek, this year.

Alex, who lives in Macclesfield, qualified as an RYA Dinghy Instructor in February this year and since then has delivered over 65 hours of training for the club's junior members plus planning and running training and 'have-a-go' taster sessions for pupils from St Dominic's Priory School and adults from the Leek Gateway Club.

He has also established and manages a popular club Facebook page as a way to keep members and ex-members informed about what is going on and notable member achievements to keep a buzz around club life, and has been an active and successful racing team member competing in events at his home club and around the country.

The SASSOT Newcomer of The Year, supported by BBC Radio Stoke, recognises the achievements of an individual in their first 18 months of participating in their chosen sport, activity or role, who has made an outstanding and inspirational contribution, above and beyond that normally expected for someone in their first 18 months.

Patricia Ordsmith, Rudyard Lake SC senior instructor and RYA Sport Development Officer for Staffordshire, nominated Alex. She believes the award is fully deserved.

Patricia said: "Alex is seen as the 'role model' by the junior members of the club, not only do they want to follow the path he has taken to become an instructor, they also want to dress like him!

"Alex has travelled to every junior training session, volunteering as an instructor both on the day and in his planning and preparation for the sessions. When a lift was not available he caught the bus and walked.

"He has developed a good instructor style, making his sessions fun and informative, which is liked by his students and encourages members to stay and develop. It is obvious he enjoys instructing.

"He only took up racing this year following his Dinghy Instructor training and has continued to develop his personal sailing skills, successfully encouraging other junior and youth age sailors to come to race at the club. We are delighted to see Alex's inspirational efforts this year rewarded with this recognition."

Rudyard Lake SC is a recognised RYA Training Centre, meaning it conforms to the highest standards of safety and quality. Alex's role has also seen him involved in OnBoard at Rudyard Lake, as part of the nationwide kids' grassroots scheme providing low cost sailing opportunities for local school and youth groups, enabling kids aged 8-18 to learn to sail, run by sailing's national governing body, the RYA.

For more information about how you or your family can get into sailing at Rudyard Lake visit or to find your nearest sailing club visit

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