Mark Somerville from Bassenthwaite Sailing Club was amongst the 57 people 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..
Mark said he was “absolutely overwhelmed” when he received notification of the award. “I thought there would be a lot of other members who would receive recognition before me because the club is a big family unit and that has helped me along the way”.
His parents were members of the club when Mark was a youngster and he started by crewing in dinghies with a number of people before having a regular role as crew in a Mirror dinghy for another club member, aged eight. After that he sailed single-handers such as Toppers and Lasers. He commented:”I really enjoy sailing. I have sailed at a lot of places but in the Lakes it is simply the best. Add racing to it and it is top notch”
At the age of 16, he took on his first officer role with the club, becoming Assistant Sailing Secretary, responsible for handling all the entries for the club’s biggest annual event – Bass Week. In those days it was all done on paper with Mark having to send out all the receipts and bank the money. He did that for five years.
He took a break from being on Council (the club’s committee) but eventually returned to take responsibility for grounds and jetties – a job that ran from managing the grass cutting to flagpole maintenance.
After that he became Vice-Commodore, Commodore and then Rear Commodore, spending two years in each job according to the club’s succession planning policy. The first of those jobs brought him back into handling Bass Week, managing nine days of racing involving 200 boats and ten nights of socials for the 300 visitors.
Twice he has played a leading role in the response to and recovery from major flooding of the site.That has ranged from donning a dry suit to rescue members’ boats to overseeing the remediation planning.
The citation says ‘Mark is a magnifcent ambassador for the club and sailing, admirably generous with his time. He has shown exceptional and unfaltering commitment to the club, its members and the sport.’
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.”
For more information about how to get out on the water in the North West region visit www.rya.org.uk/go/startboating.