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Byline: Gregg Evans

EDGBASTON Watersports are celebrating after receiving a top regional award for their commitment to introducing young people in Birmingham to sailing.

The hard-working club, based at Edgbaston Reservoir, scooped the Royal Yachting Association's club of the year award after two years of promoting the sport.

Youngsters in the area have been given the chance to embrace sailing and windsurfing because of the club's initiatives and at present over 1,000 children from schools across Birmingham take part.

Ten volunteer instructors are involved in delivering the activities and Ben Julian, the Junior Academy coach at the club, said the award is a testament to their coaching team.

"Being in the middle of Birmingham city centre, it's very rare for young people to experience sports like sailing and windsurfing," he said.

"OnBoard helps give the opportunity for young people to get out on the water, meet new people and have loads of fun.

"The festivals at the end of each season bring all the OnBoard clubs together to really show what the young people have learnt over the year.

"It's a great sense of achievement for them, also great pride for the instructors and volunteers," he added.

A volunteer sailing instructor from Selly Oak was also named among the winners at the awards night.

John Ridley won the Volunteer of the Year category for his dedication towards helping youngsters at Bartley Sailing Club. The part-time lecturer at Sandwell College spends four hours every Saturday morning teaching as part of the Birmingham Outdoor Education Centre's K2O club.

This year some 20 youngsters have benefited regularly from his enthusiasm and expertise and it was his keen-to-learn pupils that earned him the top prize.

"John is good because mainly he lets us have fun even though we are learning." explains young sailor Alex Brasher.

Fellow group member Scott Eeles added: "John is passing on his knowledge. He has a good sense of humour and makes it a good group to be in.

"I have learned loads and he really built up my confidence."

Ridley has been a member at Bartley SC for over 10 years and has helped the youngsters for four.

He said: "I enjoy teaching children to sail because I truly believe that besides enabling them to become excellent sailors, it is also character building, which will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives."

This year more than 740 novices from Birmingham and Worcestershire have enjoyed their first taste of the sport through the OnBoard initiatives with more than 10 percent of those becoming regular sailors.


John Ridley with his K2O sailing group at Bartley Sailing Club.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 9, 2011
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