A sailing club on the outskirts of Whitby had a special visitor this week as Princess Anne was on hand to officially open new training facilities.
Scaling Dam Sailing Club had hoped Sir Roger Bannister, who opened the club back in 1973, might cut the ribbon but they were amazed to learn Princess Anne was happy to do it instead.
She arrived at the club by helicopter on Tuesday afternoon and chatted to members and club officials before officially opening a £100,000 purpose built training room and garage store for vessels and equipment.
The Princess, who herself has a keen interest in sailing, asked about the boats that the club used and the former members who had gone on to become champions.
After being given a tour of the club’s facilities she met youngsters on a school trip who were fresh off the water before heading off to another appointment in Teesside.
Afterwards, club commodore Mark Lewis said: “We are one of the smaller clubs compared to, say Ripon, and we don’t have big yachts so it was a coup to get her and we were delighted. People said she will never come but as we found out with the project, if you don’t ask, you will never know and it says something for her that she was willing to come here.”
Dorothy Fielding, whose granddaughter is one of the club’s younger members, had travelled some 90 miles from her home in Cumbria for the special occasion and managed to have a word with the Princess.
She said: “That was amazing. I was just stood on the corner and had been given a flag. I said to her ‘I am supposed to wave this at you and she said you don’t have to’.
“I was a bit embarassed by my flag but it was nice to see here, I saw her once before but it was many years ago.”
Jim Welsh, 64, from County Durham is one of the club’s disabled members. He was registered blind 12 years ago and joined the club three years ago via a scheme called Sailability - of which Princess Anne is patron.
He said: “She asked how long I had been sailing and what sort of enjoyment I got out of being able to participate in sailing. I saod to her you can’t really get any closer to nature being as close to the water and feeling the wind in your face.
“She said she was pleased I enjoyed it and hoped I would continue sailing for a long time to come.”
The royal visit was the culmination of a project started in September last year when the club learned the temporary planning permission they had for storeage cabins had come to an end.
It set about getting funding for a more permanent building and added the training room above as part of plans to develop the club for the future.