A VOLUNTEER from a Hebden club has been awarded national recognition by capturing an award for her services to sailing.

Pam Cousen, 70, from Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club, based on the Grimwith Reservoir, has been rewarded for her dedication with an Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Community Award for Outstanding Contribution, having been at the heart of the club’s catering services for more than a decade.

The RYA has over 100,000 personal members and 1,500 affiliated clubs and classes, which represent some 350,000 active boaters throughout the UK.

It is estimated that four million people in the UK take part in boating activity annually.

The retired home economics teacher is among 44 volunteers from across the nation celebrated in the RYA Volunteer Awards 2020.

The ceremony is held annually to say ‘thank you’ to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport.

Although Cousen does not sail herself, she is a much-loved member of Yorkshire Dales SC, having been invited to help set up the ‘galley’ by treasurer Phil Whitehead - her brother - when the new club house was built and opened in 2008.

Cousen, who had recently retired from Ashville College in Harrogate, applied her expertise and organisational skills to design and equip the galley, and has had a leading role in helping to provide catering at the club ever since.

Over the years, she has recruited and trained numerous young members to help out, all of whom have achieved their Food Hygiene Certificate.

The club’s catering is legendary in sailing circles and thanks to Cousen’s rigorous high standards the galley consistently earns five-star ratings from inspectors.

“I love doing it because there are lots of young people at the club and all of the members are lovely,” said Cousen.

“We have big events but I also enjoy just the normal Saturdays and Sundays, when the children come with their parents and sit down and have a meal together.

"It’s about giving something back into the community.

"I don’t know one end of a boat really from another and I’ve never been out in one, but it’s the most fabulous club and if I can help, that’s just great. It’s been a really nice part of my life.”

There is usually a glittering awards ceremony in London but this year, due to the ongoing pandemic, the awards have been presented to volunteers at their local sailing clubs or in online gatherings from the safety of home.

RYA chief executive Sarah Treseder said: “This year more than ever before we have seen our club volunteers come together and work tirelessly to ensure members can continue to sail.

"The generosity and dedication of each of the RYA Volunteer Award recipients is simply outstanding and it’s a pleasure to be able to recognise these winners through this award.”