Arun Youth Aqua Centre has come through a difficult season with hopes for a bright future ahead, as the band of volunteers continues to grow.
Members, parents and friends attending the annual meeting at East Preston Scout Hall heard membership had been at an all-time low at the start of the season but had greatly improved.
The latter part of the season had been seriously affected by poor weather conditions and problems with the sluice that controls water levels in Mewsbrook Lake had curtailed activities there.
But the band of volunteer dinghy and senior instructors, safety boat helms and crews, many of them former members who have been part of the centre since they were nine, continued to grow, which is a good sign for the future.
Jan Elliman, secretary and treasurer, said: “Membership income was not matching revenue costs but still there has been a great bunch of young sailors supported by fantastic parents, willing to pitch in and help out.”
The meeting was given the heartwarming news that four of the old, rather tired craft, were destined for South Africa for refurbishment, to help youngsters from the townships to sail and have a better life. These were collected by the International Topper Class Association, following a donation to the centre of new Topper dinghies by former members.
There was further excitement when two members of Arundel-based rock band The Alternatives, John Rideau and Nigel Constable, both fathers of former members, presented a cheque for £1,000.
Jan said: “The Alternatives perform regularly around the area, always collecting for various local charitable groups, and the centre was obviously delighted to be selected.
“This money will boost the Dinghy Replacement Fund, aiming to replace the current fleet of Comet Duos with Harley 12.2 dinghies.”
Presentations to award winners were made by Steve Toney, chairman of East Preston Parish Council.
Cleo McQuillin received the trophy for the 2019 season’s overall racing.
Sydney Craddock was best novice, Daisy Berry was most improved girl and Callum Harris was most improved boy.
Trophies were presented to Aaron Dunne for sailing achievement, to Nathan Golding-Fowler for overall effort and to William Dadswell for overall achievement.
The Littlehampton Town Mayor Willing Hands award went to Aaron Bowley.
New members are always welcome. Visit www.ayac.org.uk or call 01903 714753 for more information.