OTLEY Sailing Club has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

The club, nominated for its work to make the sport accessible to all, is one of 11 finalists in the 2019 RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year Awards.

It is now hoping local residents and supporters will take part in a public vote that could see it crowned as the overall winners.

The club is a recognised leader in the provision of sailing for disabled people through its award-winning* Sailfree programme, which is affiliated to the Royal Yachting Association’s (RYA) Sailability scheme.

Commodore Norman Stephens, who set up Sailfree in 1990, said: “We literally do what’s on the can, sailing for all.

“You can imagine how proud I am to see the club shortlisted for this award.

“Winning it would be a great thank you to all the volunteers above all else. We’re a fantastic team!”

Over the past year alone the club has held 2,700 sailing sessions for schools, charities and community groups thanks to a team of more than 30 dedicated volunteers.

An RYA Training Centre for sailing and powerboating, it also runs OnBoard sessions for children and young people.

RYA North East Regional Chairman, Ian Smith, said: “I was delighted to hear that Otley Sailing Club has reached the final stage of the 2019 Club of the Year awards, having also received special recognition for their significant and sustained contribution in the ‘inclusive and open to all’ category.

“The club can be justly proud of their efforts.

“I would urge you all to cast your vote so that we not only have the winning club here in the North East but ensure that the club is rewarded for its fantastic contribution to making sailing a sport for all.”

The public can vote until Monday, January 28, 2019 and the awards will be presented to the winners at the RYA Dinghy Show in London on Saturday, March 2.

To find out more about the finalists or to cast a vote visit http://awards.yachtsandyachting.co.uk/rya/ .

A short video about Otley Sailing Club’s Sailability project, meanwhile, can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zSX7eR4D-c&feature=youtu.be .

*The club’s Sailfree work was recognised in 2012 with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service followed by a Duke of York Award for Voluntary Service to the Community in 2013.