HELPING disabled sailors take to the water has earned a Felpham student a national award.
Sarah Pawley, 17, has received a Diana Award for her community efforts.
The award was started in 1999 to enable and support thousands of young people to be recognised for the positive action they undertake in their communities.
Sarah was nominated by Felpham Community College, where she is a Year 13 student, for her dedicated volunteering work.
She supports sailing and other water activities for disabled people at the Cobnor Activities Centre in Chidham at weekends and in the school holidays.
To do this, Sarah has overcome her own battle with shyness and she now supports younger students at the college who suffer from anxiety.
Sarah said: “Getting the award was brilliant. It was a prestigious event and the award is now on my mantelpiece at home.
“I have been sailing since I was six years old and I am now a qualified assistant instructor.
“My parents have always volunteered at Cobnor and I wanted to get involved, too. I support disabled adults with sailing and canoeing.
“I help them overcome their anxieties about getting in the boats. It is really motivational to see them develop their skills and confidence and I really enjoy the work.”
Sarah received her award at a ceremony in central London earlier this month.
Since the award began, it has recognised more than 47,000 young people from across the globe aged nine to18.
Nominators are asked to submit evidence against five key criteria, designed to demonstrate the nominee’s impact on society as well as their own journey of helping others.
The criteria are the vision of the person being nominated for what their efforts will achieve, the social impact of their volunteering, the fact her work is youth-led, how long she has been volunteering and if others are inspired by what she has been doing.
Felpham Community College headteacher Mark Anstiss said: “Sarah has inspired others around her by consistently working hard to keep up with studies, even when having time off with illness, as well as giving up huge amounts of her own time to support others. She is a real credit to the college and we are proud of everything she has achieved.”
The Cobnor Activities Centre is a Royal Yachting Association-approved Sailability centre, which aims to give people with a disability the chance to experience sail and to sail regularly.
Throughout the year, four residential weekends and a week-long summer camp are held for people aged 14-45 with learning difficulties. The centre also has a chairboat.