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Stephen Norrs set for prestigious RYA Lifetime Commitment Award

by Hamish Stuart 20 Nov 2017 14:59 GMT 20 November 2017
Stephen Norris is set to receive the RYA Lifetime Commitment Award © Paul Hargreaves Photography

An Anglesey sailor will be presented with one of the Royal Yachting Association's most prestigious awards by HRH the Princess Royal, President of the RYA, in recognition of his commitment to North Wales sailing.

Stephen Norris first went sailing at Red Wharf Bay on family holidays, before moving to the area and spending more than 40 years involved in many roles at the club, helping it to survive and grow while developing young talent to succeed at national and international level.

The 63-year-old has been nominated for a Lifetime Commitment Award by his club and has been selected as a winner by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel. He will receive his award at the organisation's annual awards ceremony in London on November 24.

Among the many junior sailors to have come through the club's coaching system under the supervision of Norris are daughter Emma and son Alistair, who compete at national level in the RS200 class – Emma and partner Matt Mee being crowned British champions in 2013.

"I have just had a lifelong love and passion for the sport and the area from coming here on holiday and then settling ourselves here now," said Norris.

"I started dinghy sailing when I was 13 and still try to be as competitive as I can, while my son and daughter both compete at the highest level of competition. Having helped my own son and daughter through to success at national level, my main passion now is teaching other children.

"I also help organise the Anglesey Offshore Dinghy Race every year in the second week of August, when around 60-80 boats race a 14 mile course around the Island from Beaumaris to Traeth Bychan (the home of Red Wharf Bay SWC).

Norris has organised that huge event for Red Wharf Bay sailing for 18 years, served as Club Honorary Secretary for 23 years and held the role as Club Commodore for two years, remaining a trustee and active member of the general committee.

The club stalwart is a dinghy instructor for the club's Junior Sail training programme, a qualified race officer, as well as helping the club attain RYA training centre recognition.

"Although we have some very, very good local members, we are essentially a holiday club. We had a bit of a downturn 20 years ago which we had to fight," said Norris.

"We re-branded ourselves, added "Watersports" to the name of the club, and made ourselves more open. "That was successful and we continue to hold our membership levels, but the biggest social driver for the club - that keeps the life blood of the club going - is our junior sail training.

"For two weeks in August we have 30-40 children learning to sail, that is the future and helps keep holiday membership levels the same."

While Norris puts the time and effort in because of his passion for sailing in general and Red Wharf Bay in particular, receiving national recognition from HRH The Princess Royal is a nice added bonus.

"This recognition is fabulous," he said. "You don't do it for that, you do it for the enjoyment and passion for the sport as well as being able to pass on knowledge, but we are looking forward to the day of the awards and it will be fantastic.

"It will be a chance to meet some old friends, but also a special treat for my wife Gillian who has been the silent hero by my side through all this, so she is looking forward to it as well."

For further details about Welsh sailing and watersports, please go to www.rya.org.uk/rya-regions/rya-cymru-wales or www.facebook.com/RYACymruWales or follow on Twitter @RYACymruWales. You can also keep up to date by following RYA Cymru Wales on Instagram.

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