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New Junior trophy for North East & Yorkshire Youth Travellers (NEYYTS) in memory of John Dowd

by Paula Irish 21 Jun 2021 17:03 BST
John Dowd worked very hard supporting the North East & Yorkshire Youth Traveller Series © Dowd family

A new trophy for regatta fleet competitors in the North East & Yorkshire Youth Traveller Series (NEYYTS) is to be introduced in memory of dedicated volunteer John Dowd.

John, who died aged 80 from cancer in March, was instrumental to the series getting started in the 1980s and was involved with youth and junior sailing across the region over three decades.

At the first event of the 2021 series hosted by Pennine SC, his wife Jean and daughter Anne were invited to present the prizes. The family is now also looking forward to the final event at Yorkshire Dales SC on Saturday 18th September, when a new trophy will be presented in memory of John for the overall regatta fleet series winner.

Jean said: "A lovely trophy of a boat has been crafted by a friend of John's and we're looking forward to presenting it because John was always so keen to encourage young sailors. I remember John doing such a lot for children and youth sailors.

"He introduced a trophy to the traveller series himself called the Leapfrog Trophy, presented to the most improved sailor, and this one in his memory is similar but would encourage the novices."

John was a secondary school maths teacher at Swinton who became interested in sailing when his son Chris started crewing through school at Ulley SC in Yorkshire. He bought an Enterprise for the family and became involved in club life, the traveller series and then the National School Sailing Association. He was commodore of Ulley SC from 1996-7, and then treasurer, and a member of the RYA Regional Volunteer Team.

Jean, a retired primary school teacher, recalls: "In between taking our own three children to regattas he was organising them and gradually got more and more involved with the National School Sailing Association as well. He was just so enthusiastic with children and as a teacher he was always involved with teenagers and he really loved to encourage them to sail.

"He thought it was such a good thing for them to do and a good discipline for them along with the enjoyment of getting out in the fresh air. He wasn't terribly competitive himself but was always very enthusiastic when it came to organising a youth regatta."

David Staniforth, who worked with John on the committee at Ulley SC and on the regional RYA team, said: "Over the years John's influence in encouraging youth and junior sailors was amazing. He was very patient and had an easy manner, he was friendly and approachable. He was a well-liked and well-loved person with a good sense of humour. You would always hear his laugh before you saw him and he is missed."

He added that John, who was also a Streaker sailor, was among a group of sailing secretaries representing South Yorkshire, Ulley, Viking, Denholme, Rotherham and Pennine, who met on the first Monday of each month in the Fat Cat real ale pub in Sheffield in the early 80s to compare fixtures, which led to the start of the youth and junior series with a programme for school sailing.

Ulley SC was a hub for Rotherham Schools Sailing Association and John worked closely with Andy Rangecroft on NSSA regattas, including two at Bridlington. They also set up an international sailing exchange in 1990 with the Ukraine following the Chernobyl incident and took the children to the NSSA regatta at Rutland that year, where the then Prime Minister John Major handed out the prizes. Children from Chernobyl still sail at Ulley SC each year through an annual visit organised by churches in Sheffield.

John was presented an RYA Volunteer Award for his services to youth sailing by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, who he met again when the NSSA Nationals were the last regatta in Weymouth before the 2012 Olympics. John was NSSA treasurer at the time and later returned to watch the Games, proud that among those who grew up developing their racing skills through the series was Ulley SC's Olympian and 2008 gold medallist Paul Goodison.

Josie Gentry, of Pennine SC, who worked with John for NSSA over many years, said: "He was just lovely. He was very easy to work with but also highly organised and sensible and made sure everything was done properly. He was very well liked and respected by the sailors. John loved working with the children and I really enjoyed working with John."

When no longer able to sail, John continued to enjoy visiting the club and volunteering along with Jean for other organisations, including the National Trust and Rotherham talking newspapers. Their children have followed his interests, with Paul a brewer and Chris and Anne both sailing instructors.

When John first started helping with the youth and junior traveller series it spanned Yorkshire, then Humberside as well, and it now also encompasses the North East and includes a north and south mini-series.

Some of those who remember John from when they competed as children are now introducing their own young sailors to racing through the series, including current organiser Fiona Spence, who said: "We're very touched that the family wanted to honour John's memory with a new trophy recognising the achievement of sailors in the regatta fleet.

"It also very fitting alongside the Leapfrog trophy, which John introduced, for the most improved sailor over the series. We'd like to say thank you to the family for their ongoing support of the series and its continued success in encouraging young sailors from across the region."

For series information please see

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