Tuesday, 02 March 2021

Accolade for Goring sailing club stalwart

A MAN who revived Goring Thames Sailing Club’s ailing fortunes has been honoured.

A MAN who revived Goring Thames Sailing Club’s ailing fortunes has been honoured.

Rob Jones, of Manor Road, Goring, was presented with a High Sheriff of Oxfordshire’s Award.

The 54-year-old joined the club about 25 years ago and is currently junior development officer and deputy commodore.

He was commodore from 2007 to 2009, during which time he drew up a scheme that almost doubled the club’s membership.

At the time, numbers were dwindling and there was little to attract newcomers as the club had no boats of its own.

Mr Jones and his committee raised £50,000 to buy some small vessels so novices could try their hand.

The money came from lottery and South Oxfordshire District Council grants as well as several smaller charities. The club, whose headquarters are near the Leatherne Bottel pub, off Bridle Path, then bought 18 craft which are suitable for beginners.

Mr Jones also registered it as a Royal Yachting Association training establishment.

The club’s membership has since increased from just under 200 to about 350, more than half of whom are youngsters.

It has more than a dozen volunteer instructors and assistants and regularly holds workshops for children’s groups and schools in the area.

Mr Jones runs the club’s weekly youth sessions, which include a mix of serious training for competitions and fun games and races.

About six years ago he also helped to launch the Thames Valley Team Race Challenge, a one-day young people’s regatta which takes place at various towns along the river.

Mr Jones, who lives with his wife Claire and children, Alex, 19, and Charlotte, 17, was introduced to sailing as a boy by his father Ron.

He maintained a lifelong interest but became more enthusiastic when Alex was six and he started taking him out on the water.

He said: “It took a backseat for a while but was rekindled once the children came along.

“The river is right on our doorstep and I felt we should take advantage as we’re very lucky to have it running so close to us.

“Sailing is one of the easiest ways to get out and enjoy the water in Goring. It’s such an intrinsic part of the  village. The club is now really vibrant and popular – I wouldn’t say it’s full but it is getting close to that stage.”

Mr Jones was presented with his award in the form of a scroll by the High Sheriff Tony Stratton at a special ceremony at Christ Church College in Oxford in February.

He was one of 20 people from across the county to be honoured.

He said: “I was thrilled. It came completely out of the blue as I didn’t even know the award existed, let alone that I’d been nominated. I was very honoured and it has really put the club on the map.

“We’re not as big as some of the coastal clubs but nonetheless it’s an awesome achievement, not just for me but for all our members.”

A club spokesman said: “We are immensely proud of Rob and delighted that his dedication and commitment have been recognised.”

More News:

POLL: Have your say