Neville and Val Khambatta from Norwich were amongst the 57 people who were recognised at the RYA Volunteer Awards on Friday (16 November).
The Awards were presented by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, President of the RYA, in recognition of boating’s most dedicated volunteers.
At the ceremony, held at One Great George Street, Westminster, London, Neville and Val received their RYA Outstanding Contribution Awards in recognition of their commitment to the Norfolk Punt Club.
Both Neville and Val have been active on the Broads sailing scene for the past 25 years, particularly at their home club, the Norfolk Punt Club. Over this time they have actively supported the training of adults and young people in both sailing and powerboating. Val has been on the Norfolk Punt Club committee for 14 years and was Commodore in 2005. As Training School Principal she organises the annual Junior week, runs first aid training and advises the committee on health and safety standards. Neville was Commodore in 2013, has taught sailing at the club for as long as members can remember, and plays a major role in looking after the club’s boats. Most recently, they initiated ‘Social Saturdays’, offering sailing and social opportunities to both members and non-members. As a direct result, the Punt Club has gained new members, some of whom are now taking an active role in the club. As well as being mainstays of the club, they also support local sailing charities – Val has been a Trustee of the Nancy Oldfield Trust since 2008, and Neville has been a Trustee of Hunters Yard since 1994.
They said of the day: “When the RYA puts on a show it really knows how to do it! The awards ceremony in London is most impressive and to tell the truth we had not fully understood the honour given us by the Norfolk Punt Club until we began to read the citations of other recipients, very humbling. It was a memorable day made even more so the following evening back home in Norfolk when the Punt Club AGM made us both Honorary Life Members. Honestly, we are still a bit stunned by it all. Two ex-pat Londoners who just love sailing and love the Broads! Thank you Norfolk……. the Punt Club and the RYA.”
RYA Director of Sport Development, Alistair Dickson commented: “The RYA Volunteer Awards, sometimes known as the MBE’s of our sport, recognise the outstanding contributions made by volunteers nationwide.
“Today has been a fantastic opportunity to say thank you to the people that go above and beyond, giving that little bit extra to ensure others can enjoy the sport we all love. Volunteers really are the lifeblood of boating and it’s an honour to reward their efforts and give something back.”