Erith sailor not ready to anchor boat just yet
PUBLISHED: 15:26 14 March 2013 | UPDATED: 15:26 14 March 2013
Septuagenarian Dudley Davies has been honing the talents of young sailors in Bexley for more than 30 years - and he isn't prepared to dock a boat for the final time just yet.
He was recently bestowed with a lifetime achievement award from the Royal Yachting Association.
The 76-year-old was modest when it came to receiving the honour, thanking colleagues at Erith Yacht Club where he regularly teaches future sailors.
He said: “People at the club are the key to me getting this award.
“I’m just a guy who loves sailing. The award was just a bonus because I love teaching kids.
“To see youngsters progressing and becoming senior instructors themselves is an amazing thing and it is one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
The Welshman moved to Bexley in the 1960s to work for the River Police and has lived in the borough ever since.
For years he took on the role of team manager for the sailing team at the London Youth Games but his commitment to sailing in Bexley does not stop there.
He was an integral part in Erith Yacht Club securing £3.5million in Olympic legacy funding to redevelop the club and he was proud to see the Olympic torch sail into the harbour last year.
He said: “It was a great day for the club. The weather was beautiful, it was packed with familiar faces and we were part of history.
“A lot of people at Erith put a lot of work in and I think that showed in the end result.”
Retired Dudley still teaches young sailors at Erith Yacht Club and at the YMCA Sailing Club next to Southmere Lake in Thamesmead.
He has spent much of the past few months with YMCA kids at the Frostbite Winter Sailing Camp in Docklands and is gearing up for the summer season as the weather improves.
He has also tried to ensure the sailing bug stays in the family, passing on his expertise to his five children and seven grandchildren.
“I’ve been teaching so long now it’s second nature. I couldn’t resist trying to get my family involved.
“It must be 70 years since I first went out in a boat with my dad, though I didn’t take it up as a major hobby until I moved to Bexley. Living in Erith and being on the river certainly helped.”
Bexley Council has praised the thousands of hours Dudley has put in to improve sailing opportunities for young people.
Cllr Don Massey said: “I was delighted to hear that Dudley’s fantastic work in Bexley has been recognised in such a prestigious way.
“His commitment to volunteering and the impact it has had on developing opportunities and participation in sport in the local community over the years has been amazing.
“We are very lucky to have him.”
Dudley says he won’t be putting down anchor any time soon.
“I’m not ready to give up quite yet. I sail every day in the summer and don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t go out in a boat.”