THE chairman of a Ringwood-based charity helping disabled people to sail has retired after 12 years in the role.

Eric Blyth, who has been chairman of New Forest and District Sailability (NFDS) since 2001, officially retired at the charity’s annual meeting.

During his reign the group has grown from eight members using three boats, to about 350 members with a fleet of 16 boats.

Mr Blyth, who will remain president of the charity, was awarded the Royal Yachting Association’s Exceptional Contribution Award last year He said: “I’m very proud of NFDS, and I look forward to staying involved as president for many years to come.

“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all who have been involved with the running and the success of NFDS over the past 12 years – long may it continue.

“My thanks also go to The Spinnaker Sailing Club for the use of their facilities, and for the cooperation, support and inclusion that NFDS has enjoyed since it was founded in 2000 – may this also continue.”

Mr Blyth is issuing his annual call for more volunteers to support the charity.

Anyone interested in a role, or who would like to make a donation, is urged to get in touch.

The club starts sailing again from April 2 this year until the end of October, on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10am to 4pm at Spinnaker Sailing Club, Ivy Lane, Ringwood.

Mr Blyth said: “The group will always welcome new members so if you have any disability and would like to try sailing, or have some spare time and wish to become a volunteer, doing duties from making tea and coffee to skippering the dinghies and operating the safety boat, or would like to make a donation, you can come to one of our sessions at the lake.”

Contact Mr Blyth on 023 8086 7438 or email