HRH The Princess Royal Honours North Yorkshire Sailing Volunteer

Posted: Wed, 08 Dec 2021 14:06

A dedicated sailing volunteer from North Yorkshire has been presented with a prestigious award by HRH The Princess Royal, president of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).

The annual RYA Volunteer Awards recognise the outstanding contribution made by volunteers across the UK. Among those honoured at a glittering ceremony at One Great George Street in London was John Knopp, of Catterick Garrison Sailing Club and Thornton Steward Sailing Club, who received a Lifetime Commitment Award.

John grew up sailing in Portsmouth and was a Sea Scout, then continued his love of the sport throughout his career in the Army, including becoming Secretary for the Army Sailing Association Germany and Principal of the British Roermond Sailing Club. He gained his first instructor ticket in 1976 with the Army and over the last 25 years has volunteered his time at Catterick as the Chief Instructor and assisting at Thornton Steward, building and maintaining the relationship between the two clubs, which through Catterick's membership of TSSC, use the same water, club house, facilities and fleet.

As an RYA Senior Instructor, First Aider and Powerboat Instructor and Assessor, John has trained countless members of both clubs, and now aged 73, is still volunteering. He said: "I'm very proud to have received an award but I just enjoy doing it. It's hard work and as I get older it's getting harder but I love seeing people learning to sail and in particular enjoy helping children learn to sail. I do a lot of work with youngsters at both clubs, particularly in the holidays, and when a nervous nine-year-old goes out on the water and suddenly realises it's quite exciting and fun, that's really satisfying."

John has also been an RYA Powerboat Trainer and RYA Cruising Instructor, and in its nomination of John for the RYA Volunteer Award, the club said in its citation: "John has given 25 years of absolute dedication to members of Catterick Garrison Sailing Club and unstinting support to Thornton Steward Sailing Club."

Describing John as "an outstanding role model with boundless energy", the club added that in addition to supporting training he had developed junior instructors, coaching them to improve their skills, and used his wealth of knowledge, experience and connections to support charitable requests to buy new equipment and maintain the existing fleet, often assisting bosuns with maintenance when not instructing.

The RYA is boating's national governing body and 50 awards were presented this year to celebrate long-standing volunteers and committed youngsters from across the country.

Rob Clark, RYA Director of Sport Development said: "2021 has been another challenging year for sailing organisations with outdoor activity restarting and restrictions slowly lifting. More than ever volunteers are the backbone of our clubs and the wider boating community, and every single award winner has made an impact by sacrificing their time and expertise so others can enjoy being on the water. It's a pleasure to recognise their achievements."

Family-friendly Thornton Steward SC is an RYA Recognised Training Centre 5 miles west of Bedale, North Yorkshire, at the entrance to Wensleydale, and offers a warm welcome for anyone keen to find out more about its activities or courses. Visit or discover more about sailing at

HRH The Princess Royal Honours North Yorkshire Sailing Volunteer

Tags: Sailing