Cumbria Crack

Two local sailors awarded for volunteering at Coniston Sailing Club

Valerie Beacock

Two local sailors are to be presented with prestigious awards for their contribution as volunteers with Coniston Sailing Club. They will receive the awards from the President of the RYA, HRH the Princess Royal later this month

Valerie Beacock was nominated for a Lifetime Commitment award and Rob Swyer for a Outstanding Contribution Award by the club and selected as a winner by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel. The presentation will be at the organisation’s annual awards ceremony in London on 16 November.

Valerie said she burst into tears when she was notified of the award “I was exceedingly moved. It was lovely”.

She had started sailing when she was 10 or 11 at West Kirby SC on the marine lake. Her father was the club treasurer at the time. She and her husband got a static caravan at  Coniston in 1989 and shortly afterwards joined the sailing club as it was a safe water to teach her own children to sail. “We totally fell in love with the area.”

Eventually she moved to the area, taking over a B&B close to the end of the lane to the club. She was Commodore in 2008 and then Sailing Chairman and a Trustee. She was instrumental in the club becoming an RYS recognised Training Centre because while they were teaching youngsters how to sail, they could not give them certificates to record their skills. Valerie took on the job of Training Principal. A number of their youngsters have now qualified for Zone Squads and have done well at national and international events.

The citation says; “Valerie’s enthusiasm, commitment and generosity have had a huge impact on the juniors. She is on the beach and on the water with the Instructors and the juniors at every training day. She is an exceptional role model and an inspiration to them all.”

Rob Swyer

Rob Swyer was ‘stunned’ when notified of his award. He has been Treasurer for the past 10 years, taking over when there was some uncertainty. He tightened financial management, secured a VAT refund and cancelled loss-making contracts. As a result the club was able to afford new jetties and training boats.

Rob’s wife is a keen sailor but he came to the sport later in life and prefers social sailing in a Wayfarer dinghy. His sons, now at university, are keen on racing. The youngest was in the Topper Zone Squad and the 29er National Squad.

The clubhouse kept suffering flooding of the lower levels and he negotiated a 20 years lease with the National Trust so the club could win grants to help in a big refurbishment, moving the changing facilities to the upper level.

He then went on to manage the project, even joining the interior decorating teams over the winter of 2016-17 so the new bright and warm facilities were open in time for the sailing season.

The citation says; “His prudent and transparent financial and project management enabled successful completion of the build and removed an impediment to growing the club’s membership.”

For more information about how to get out on the water in the North West region visit

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