BEMBRIDGE sailor Mike Samuelson said he felt humbled after he was recognised by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) for his voluntary work with a special award, presented to him by Princess Anne.

Mike was one of a contingent of 57 people and teams who had their efforts marked with an accolade at the RYA Volunteer Awards, held at One Great George Street, London.

The Princess Royal, president of the RYA, awarded Mike his in recognition of being one of British boating’s most dedicated volunteers.

Mike, who became Bembridge Sailing Club's secretary in 1996, has gone on to fulfil many key club and Isle of Wight roles, as well as providing invaluable local knowledge to the RYA on Marine Conservation Zone issues.

As the honorary secretary of the Bembridge Harbour Users' Group since it was founded 15 years ago, he has helped to preserve access for boaters to Bembridge.

At Bembridge Sailing Club, Mike introduced and ran training courses — becoming its chief instructor in 2000, through to 2014 — and was a deputy launch authority for Bembridge Lifeboat between 2004 and 2012, as well as lifeboat operations manager from 2012 to 2017.

Mike, a member of the lifeboat’s local visits, education and community safety teams, has seen his endeavours help countless people to learn to sail safely and enjoy the sport at all levels.

“Reading and hearing about the other award winners at the ceremony was very humbling,” said Mike.

“It really showed the extent of the dedicated volunteer army that exists throughout the country, supporting recreational and competitive boating.

“I felt especially honoured and extremely grateful to those who nominated me. It was a very special day.”

The RYA's director of sport development, Alistair Dickson, paid tribute to Mike.

He said: “The RYA Volunteer Awards, sometimes known as the MBEs of our sport, recognise the outstanding contributions made by volunteers nationwide.

"The awards were a fantastic opportunity to say thank you to the people who go above and beyond — giving that little bit extra to ensure others can enjoy the sport we all love.

"Volunteers really are the lifeblood of boating and it’s an honour to reward their efforts and give something back.”