24th Nov, 2020

Everything's shipshape as Solihull sailor picks up top RYA award

Ross Crawford 15th Nov, 2020

A SOLIHULL yachtswoman has been recognised for her dedication to the sport with a Lifetime Commitment Award.

Maureen Highfield-Sykes from the Heart of England Offshore Cruising Association (HOEOCA) is among 44 ‘unsung heroes’ from across the UK whose outstanding contribution to boating is celebrated in the Royal Yachting Association’s Volunteer Awards 2020.

Maureen became social secretary of HOEOCA 15 years ago and in nominating her for the award, the association said: “Her enthusiasm in the role remains undimmed.

“Her organisational ability has ensured the success of the numerous activities she runs and, more recently, the club’s promotional merchandise.

“Positive and proactive, she runs the club’s annual end of season supper and awards ceremony, as well as other social events.

“Maureen not only has the skills to organise events but also to generate others’ interest, delighting in sharing her love of sailing.”

In addition to her role with HOEOCA, Maureen is a member of the RYA Midlands Regional Volunteer Team, helping to promote sailing.

The 67-year-old said: “I was astonished to find my name had been put forward for the award.

“I don’t do one of the big important jobs and I’m not a fantastic sailor but I just love sailing and the people who are in HOEOCA.

“I enjoy being a part of the club.”

Members charter boats to sail off the British coast or join rallies abroad, offering fun offshore cruising and racing for people living in the landlocked Midlands and enabling sailors to improve their skills while also welcoming beginners.

Maureen started sailing in her 50s after taking a week-long RYA Competent Crew course and became social secretary of HOEOCA almost immediately after joining.

She said: “What I love about sailing is that it doesn’t matter how much you know.

“If you are willing to get on board and do what you can and be part of that group, you’re accepted for what you can do.”

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