HRH Princess Anne visited The Royal Lymington Yacht Club on Wednesday 26th June for a very special Coral Anniversary. She was helping to mark the 35th anniversary of The Royal Lymington Yacht Club's Wednesday Junior Sailing or WJS as it's known.
WJS, which has been proudly supported by Lymington Yacht Haven for 35 years, provides RYA dinghy, rowing and power boat training and limitless water-borne fun for children who live locally. They even get a doughnut and a cup of hot chocolate at the end of the session!
WJS has been the grass roots from which many sailing champions have emerged. We have had 3 Olympic medallists, many World, European and National Champions and most recently Hattie Rogers, Robbie Boyd, Max Crowe and Henry Collison have become the top Etchells Youth Team this year. Ten years ago it was Hattie, then aged 9, who presented the posy to the Princess Royal when she came to celebrate the 25th anniversary.
WJS was started in 1984 by Dr. Jonathan Rogers, assisted by Dr Tom McEwen, using 12 Scows which were made available by Club Members. As WJS has grown over the years so too has the need for volunteers. Over a hundred enthusiastic volunteers, led by Ali Husband, take turns to help in all weathers throughout the sailing season.
A Royal Visit takes even more time and attention of course and everything was prepared to the nearest few seconds.
The briefing of the children at the start of the day went well, although Kirsty Husband, the Club's General Manager - Operations, did have to point out that they should greet her Royal Highness with "M'am as in jam".. but don't say the "as in jam" bit!
When Princess Anne arrived, the children may have been a little disappointed at first at the absence of a long pink dress and a tiara but they soon came to admire her for her confidence in boats and her perceptive questions. The Princess Royal was taken out in one of the safety boats crewed by Claire Sowry, Mary McGough & Kristy Powell and so was able to see at first-hand how the children were learning through having fun and coping with hazards such as the Isle of Wight ferry and fast-moving fishing boats.
Once safely back ashore, Princess Anne was pressed into service, splashing with champagne the latest addition to the 46 boats of the WJS fleet, a splendid Lymington River Scow with navy blue hull and red sails. This new boat, sponsored as so many have been in the past by the Lymington Yacht Haven, was aptly named Royal Coral. After naming the new dinghy the Princess then cut the beautifully decorated celebration cake which was gratefully devoured by the waiting children. Savannah Farrelly then presented a posy before the Princess had to say her farewells and be whisked away to her waiting helicopter.
The Club Commodore, Roger Garlick said "The Club were delighted that our Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, was able to join us to help celebrate the 35th Anniversary of WJS last Wednesday. We are immensely proud of this community sailing project, which has provided tuition for many thousands of local children over the last 35 years. None of this would have been possible without the tireless efforts of all the volunteers involved over that time, to whom we are very grateful."