A lifetime’s love of sailing has earned Tony Saltonstall a national award and lunch with royalty.
He was presented with a RYA Award, which is given to outstanding volunteers for their commitment and services to boating at a regional or national level.
For decades, he has championed squibs, a small two-man racing keelboat, and he has twice been National and Inland champion in the category.
His services to sailing earned recognition when he was invited to the 2014 ceremony in London, where 40 volunteers from around the country were given awards by Princess Anne.
Tony, who is honorary measurer at the Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club in Bridlington, received a certificate from the RYA, signed by the Princess Royal, a medal and a solid gold tie pin, one of only three given out at the luncheon.
He said: “I didn’t know anything about this award. I had no idea until it was announced at our national championships. To top it all, we got a call before the event, asking if we would like to be on the top table and have lunch with Princess Anne.
“She is just lovely, so genuine and not condescending or aloof.
“From a penniless background to sitting with royalty, I will never forget it. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Tony has been involved with the National Squib Association since 1986 and began sailing back in 1970.
“I was brought up on West Hill and my dad was a boat builder on Bridlington harbour and he got us into sailing. My brothers joined the Navy, and my older brother became the British Olympic yachting coach, while I became an estate agent.”
The souvenir programme from the event described Tony as ‘the first port of call for anyone thinking of joining the class’ and he is considered to be an expert on buying and selling boats, and rules and measurements from the squib category.
Squibs are all made to the same design but the class’ future was thrown into doubt recently when the builder who makes the boats was moving overseas. Tony stepped in to save the day, spending hours discussing how to save the moulds for the design.
He said: “I stopped him taking the moulds to America. The class’ development would have stopped and it would have cost tens of thousands of pounds to have new ones made.”