OCEAN-FARING pals have picked up a prestigious national award.
Sailing enthusiasts Gary Rutherford and Roy Twelves, from Sunderland Yacht Club, have been hailed Maritime Heroes in a new nationwide initiative.
Twenty-year-old Gary and Roy, 78, were put forward by the club and are now battling it out against 30 competitors from across the county for a place in the finals.
The annual awards scheme was launched by Old Pulteney Single Malt Whisky to reward people in maritime communities who deserve recognition for club service, bravery or sailing achievement.
Gary, from Fulwell, was put forward for his outstanding sailing skills and Roy, for his service to the Wearside club.
After learning to sail with the Sea Scouts aged just 10, Gary joined Sunderland Yacht Club aged 14.
Seeing the need for more instructors, he qualified as a RYA Dinghy Instructor aged 16 and became a senior earlier this year.
He has now taken responsibility for the club’s sailing training, while still taking on further training courses.
Gary, a maintenance engineer for Siemens in Newcastle, said: “It’s great to win any award and to go on and represent myself and the club is fantastic.
“Sailing is an incredibly social sport. You see the boats on the water but there is a massive social life behind that.
“The guys you sail with and sail next to become as close family as the guys at home.”
Now club president, Roy joined Sunderland Yacht Club in 1972 and has held many roles, from flag officer to commodore.
He steered the club through choppy waters after it faced a compulsory purchase order, and led a team to a new, larger home.