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August Newsletter: Award Wins!

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The past few months have been characterised by generous support from volunteers and sponsors, by recognition from government institutions, by disabled crew team-building through ocean racing, and by connections with the community, especially schools and youth programs.

In this newsletter you'll read about:

  • Winning one volunteer award
  • Upcoming volunteer awards shortlist nominees
  • Interviews with volunteers
  • Northern Campaign overview: highlights 
  • Thank you to volunteers
  • Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht Race story
  • ASX Thomson Reuters Charity Foundation partnership 
  • Twlight racing Sydney starting soon
  • ACT - outcome i.e. we got the remote


Minister's Volunteer Management Award

We are proud to share with you that, in August, SWD received the Minister's Volunteer Management Award for a state sporting organisation, 2015.

“Five outstanding individuals and three exceptional sporting organisations have been named as winners in the 2015 Community Sports Volunteer Awards for their dedication to improving the lives of millions of people from NSW through sport.

New South Wales’ community sporting heroes were recognised by their peers and by the Minister of Regional Development, The Hon. John Barilaro, on behalf of the Minister of Sport, The Hon. Stuart Ayres, with the announcement of the winners of the 2015 Community Sport Volunteer Awards at NSW Parliament House on Friday, 21 August 2015.

According to Sport NSW CEO, Cheryl Battaerd, “More than four hundred thousand people across NSW voluntarily dedicate their time every year through their involvement in sporting clubs and organisations. Put simply, sport would not exist without them.”

Thank you to SWD volunteer, Paul Palmer, for joining us at the event alongside the SWD representatives, Deb Sandars, who received the award on behalf of SWD, and David Pescud, founder. You can see photos from the awards night, here

Above (left-right): David Pescud, Tracey Lee Holmes, who opened the event, SWD volunteer Paul Palmer, Deb Sandars, who received the award on behalf of SWD.


And SportsNSW shared this on their Twitter feed:


SWD volunteers short-listed for Upcoming NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards 

Congratulations to SWD's short-listed nominees in the 2015 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards. Winners to be announced in coming weeks:

  • Adult division: Mark Ralph
  • Volunteer Team Division: Winds of Joy/Winds of Change team
  • Corporate Individual Volunteer division: Joshua Taig

About the award:

“The NSW Volunteer of the YearAwards program is an initiative of The Centre for Volunteering, the peak body for volunteering in NSW.”

For SWD, these nominees are representative of a broad, dedicated, generous and inspiring volunteer body who work week in, week out, to support all SWD programs.

We wish to thank the hundreds of individuals who have volunteered in numerous roles over the past 21 years to enable SWD to grow and better fulfil its mission. Without this support the organisation simply could not deliver the volume of programs that it delivers. We continually strive to improve systems and processes so that we can also serve volunteers and create a mutually rewarding experience for everyone involved. 

Please email Volunteer Manager Sandi Mahoni (email) if you wish to express interest in volunteering with SWD.


Above: Jay Okamoto, SWD volunteer, with Inverell Clontarf Foundation students returning to SWD in Winds of Change program


What's It Like to be an SWD Volunteer?

You can read about SWD volunteers by clicking the links below. Here’s a short excerpt from each interview published in July and August:

Our interview with Jay Okamoto:

What made you want to volunteer with SWD?

I’ve always enjoyed passing along knowledge, whether it be sailing, gardening or teaching my daughter math! I thought about volunteering and making a difference, but I didn’t know what I could do.

I saw the TV ads about Sailors with disAbilities and thought, “Hey! I could do that. What a great way to give back to the community and also be involved with sailing again!”

Our interview with Jac Wilson:

What made you want to volunteer with SWD?

Whilst watching the Sydney to Hobart, 2013, my friend and mentor pointed out the SWD entry, WotEva. I was intrigued to know how people with such difficulties could work together as a crew to participate in this ocean race. So I rang SWD and I was invited to come along to the CYCA to participate in a race on Kayle, a 52ft Lyons grand prix offshore racing yacht purpose built for disabled people.

The people I met in that race were unique. The more I volunteer with SWD, the more amazing people I have the privilege of meeting.

Below: Jac with students during the Melbourne campaign in March this year.



Northern Campaign News

The Northern Campaign is a 6-week program in which SWD's volunteer team head north from Sydney to support free sailing days to children, young people and adults with a disability, and disadvantaged children.  During the 2015 Northern Campaign, SWD has visited Southport, Coffs Harbour and Newcastle and has welcomed over 700 students, family members, teachers and carers from over 20 schools.

Our volunteer crew stay on board on the 52-foot Lyons racing yacht Kayle for the entirety of the campaign. Kayle is custom-designed and ergonomically sensitive to the needs of disabled people, being able to accommodate up to 5 wheelchairs.  

A selection of images from the Northern Campaign. You can see the whole album on Flickr

Northern 1

Here are some highlights and quotes from the Northern Campaign this year

Southport Highlight:

"Day 4 in Southport saw the students from Mount Ommaney Special School join SWD with some parents and teachers.

Some students felt anxious in the new environment but big smiles and laughter soon erupted. A highlight was when a sea plane landed beside us, and even this interruption did not stop the students exploring every inch of the boat! Connor and Emily had a duel to see who could have the most turns steering!

We even had MOB (man overboard) practice or, in this case, an Elmo pick-up practice—saved by Dale and Jude! Phew!

The school has become a Facebook friend of SWD so we can keep in touch all year now!"

You can read many more stories and daily updates on our Facebook page.

Coffs Harbour Highlight:

One of our volunteers, Kristi, narrated her experience:

"On Wednesday morning this week we had Coffs Harbour Primary School on board. A little girl who communicated by sign language had a go on the helm. She had fun steering and “donuts” in the harbour. First we went in one direction, then around in another.

When back in dock, she tapped me on the chest and signed that she went this way, then that way, using the sign for boat, which I understood. I tapped her and best I could I signed that it made me dizzy, pressing my fingers to my temples and wobbling my head from side to side. She thought this was outrageously funny, laughing hysterically, and continued signing her donuts around so I would wobble my dizzy head. What a great moment we shared."

Newcastle Highlight: 

On Friday afternoon during the first week in Newcastle, Newcastle High School came on board and rocked the volunteers.

"The students collectively took over the boat from what we were supposed to do and sailed it, while we sat back and only had to make sure everyone was safe."

"They were a bunch of live-wires," said one volunteer. "Chivalry and kindness will never die while Cameron is alive," said another. "Cameron made the crew redundant."

Following one volunteer up the bow, Cameron turned to his fellow class mates and passed on the instructions to the other young ones, helping them up to the bow. They in turn took turns helping each other along the deck.

"I had tears in my eyes knowing this guy is there to help the others," said another volunteer. The end of the day saw a few tears and hugs.

A selection of images below from Coffs Harbour, Southport, and Newcastle.



Thank you to SWD Volunteers

Volunteers often say that the camaraderie with each other is one of the greatest joys of volunteering with SWD. We would like to thank all the volunteers involved in The Northern Campaign, 2015. You have been wonderful, generous, extraordinarily dedicated, and supportive on- and off-water. You have enabled the organisation to achieve another great year of success.

Some of the Northern Campaign volunteers having a night off in Coffs Harbour last month.

SWD volunteers Coffs Harbour

Thank you especially to Mark Ralph who organised the volunteers throughout the Northern Campaign. And thank you to the individual volunteers (in reverse, first-name, alphabetical order):

Tony Purkiss, Theresa Robertson, Ron Bowrey, Roger Bonnet, Rick Mustillo, Ray Anthony, Paul Palmer, Mike Muir, Michael Galloway-Smith, Mark Goode, Kristie Anne Foster, Keven Rainbow, Julia Harrison, Judith Hodgson, Jo Anne Emery, Jim Igoe, Jay Okamoto, Jacqueline Wilson, Ian Wyard, Greg Pugh, Deb Sandars, David Pescud, Dale Coward.

The photography and writing volunteers have diligently and collectively uploaded and emailed over 1300 images, day and night, during the campaign. They have written stories and taken phone calls to narrate stories to upload to our social media profiles. This is helping us share stories with those who visit us and beyond so we can reach others who may be inspired by the programs and might even join in or do something to inspire others because of the leadership and work of SWD volunteers.

Which leads us to the event that brought us to Queensland...


Mark T and John Whitfeld

Above: SGC Yacht Race Skipper John Whitfeld, left, and Mark Thomson, right

Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht Race

Sailors with disABILITIES participated and completed the 2015 LandRover Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht Race with a crew of fifteen on board Kayle.

According to the CYCA"the 384 nautical mile race has attracted fleets of between 70 and 80 yachts each year, with entries coming mainly from New South Wales and Queensland, but also from Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and New Zealand. In 1997, a record fleet of 86 boats took part."

The full crew, below, in Sydney, hours before starting time on July 25.

This year, SWD finished 41st overall, out of a fleet of 62, and 12th on handicap in the PHS Division with a time of 03:01:05:38 on July 28th.

After arriving in Southport, Mark Thomson, long-term crew volunteer and veteran of several Sydney to Hobarts said:

"Our race result is a fair reflection of how we raced, but not of what we achieved. We have one crew member with Friedreich's Ataxia, a rare inherited disease that causes nervous system damage and movement problems, two crew who are amputees, one person with vision impairment, one who was was in a wheelchair, one with MS, and John Whitfeld as a first-time ocean racing skipper with SWD." 

When asked about the crew's achievements, SWD Founder, David Pescud, who did not join the race for the first time in many years, reflected on the success of the crew:

"What a great way to start the 2015 sailing season off: with a brand new skipper, John Whitfeld, a new crew and a great, great success story--getting everybody to Southport safely. How proud we all are here in Sydney of our new team. They're getting ready for Sydney to Hobart and this was the first part of their training program. They're all there in the warmth, now, and we're here in the cold and they're feeling pretty proud of themselves, and so they should be. It's a pretty tough 384 mile race and sailed in trying conditions. We're very pleased with the outcome and looking forward to a great result in the Hobart race this year."

You can read more here.

The weather was kind to the crew during the race, as you can see!

 SGC winning image

One of the images from SWD's entries in the photography competition

Social Media Win

On the eve of the Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht Race, Harry Atkinson and Kristi Foster, SWD on-water crew volunteers, were briefed about how we could win the Land Rover Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race photography competition. The team discussed a strategy and we went for it. 

To win Day 1, crew had to take great photographs from the yacht and then upload those to Facebook. Fortunately we had contact with coastal wifi services. We then had to get more "Likes" than any other yachts by posting images from the race on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles tagged with #LandRoverSGC, the official race hashtag.

Because we have such a supportive online community, and because our crew are also skilled with social media and photography, SWD’s images won Day 1 of the Photography competition. To publicise the winner, the CYCA and SGC race profiles, posted SWD's images and social media profiles to their pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, thereby putting us in front of a global yachting audience on social media and gaining valuable exposure for SWD.

We wish to thank the skipper, John Whitfeld, and the crew for "getting on board" with this initiative during a major yacht race! Thank you to Kristi and Harry for running with it at the last minute and helping us increase our profile online. 

If any of our readers of this newsletter are active on social media and would like to help us spread the word during future social media campaigns like this with your Twitter, Instagram or Facebook accounts, please contact Gayle Pescud, SWD's social media coordinator with your account links and we will follow you and keep you in the loop for hashtags when the time comes.

We have a world-first event coming up in October/November for which we would welcome social media support from our community so we can spread that event globally. We'll be discussing strategy with our online team, shortly. We invite you to be a part of that. 

@SGCYachtRace posted this on Twitter:


ASX Thomson Reuters Charity Foundation partnership

SWD is proud to announce a partnership with the ASX Thomson Reuters Charity Foundation. A little history about the foundation: 

"The ASX Group and Thomson Reuters Australia (formerly Reuters) joined forces in 1999 to form a charity foundation with the objective of helping Australian-based children’s, disability and medical research charities by organising fundraising events in conjunction with the financial markets."

As a nominated charity for 2015/2016, SWD will be the recipient of funds raised in the Foundation's Art Union draw and other events scheduled over coming months to raise money for charities, of which SWD is one such fortunate recipient.

To help raise money for SWD, you can purchase tickets at the official ASX Thomson Reuters SWD page to win great prizes:

  • 1st Prize: Lexus IS350 Luxury valued at $70,340.
  • 2nd Prize: 18 Carat Gold and South Sea Cultured Pearl Pendant valued at $6,490.
    3rd Prize: 3 night Discovery Murray River Cruise valued at$2,524.

Please share this with your friends and family. You can download the competition flyer here.

SWD thank the brilliant team who were key to securing this partnership: Spearheaded by Peter Lewis and by former board member, John Beasley, and SWD Administrator Donna Pilling, and Stephen Emmett, SWD Fundraising Committee volunteer.

We'll have more news about the other events in the next newsletter. 

Win a Lexus



Twilight Yacht Racing Season begins

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Twilight racing season will begin in October, in Sydney. 

“The popular Club Marine Wednesday Twilight Series commences on 7 October 2015, and runs through to 16 March 2016. 

There will be a five week break from 10 December whilst the CYCA Trophy and Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race are being conducted.”

SWD will participate. Please email Donna if you’re interested in joining the crew for this.


act Campaign Thank You

We wish to thank our generous supporters who enabled us to greatly exceed our ACT fundraising goal by 1020%! Our goal was to purchase a remote control to steer Kayle from the wheelchair. Now we can do much more than this. Thank you! You can see our ACT Campaign page, here. 

“To solve the challenge of enabling people in wheelchairs to steer Kayle when they come on board in our programs, this project will provide a remote control device which controls the yacht's course and enables children to steer from their wheelchair.

Designed for ocean racing, SWD crew volunteers will guide children and adults in wheelchairs to use the device in our on-water programs so they get the opportunity to skipper a yacht on Sydney Harbour.”

From their site: “What is ACT? act gives you the opportunity to earn and donate banking profits to a whole range of inspiring, community-focused projects - simply by doing something you already do everyday. ACT products are issued and backed by Bendigo Bank.”

 The campaign still has 20 days to run. We'll update you in the next newsletter with the final outcomes.


Overall, it has been a successful few months for SWD on every front. We hope to bring more good news at the end of September in our next newsletter.

Meanwhile, you can stay connected with SWD every day here:

on Facebook: 

on Twitter: 

on Instagram: 

A few more images from the Northern Campaign, below. 


Woohoo! Thanks for reading!!!




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