A Gig-rowing world champion and stalwart of the Helford River Gig Club has won British Rowing’s Lifetime Achievement award.

Dave Merrick was presented with the award at a special lunch for all the coach and volunteer award winners at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames on Saturday.

He said: "I am really proud to have won this award from British Rowing; but more so for Helford and the sport of gig rowing rather than for myself."

Dave was secretly nominated by fellow club members, who pulled together and submitted a grand total of 14 testimonials to support his nomination.

The news that he had won the award for the West of England region came just before Christmas and was celebrated in true Helford style in the Ferryboat Inn, from where the club rows.

It was then at the lunch last Saturday that he found out he was the overall winner.

The awards, which celebrate and recognise the significant contribution that volunteers and coaches make to rowing were presented by British Rowing Chairman, Annamarie Phelps CBE and double Olympic champion Alex Gregory MBE. Phelps said: “It is a privilege and an honour to be able to recognise the hard work, dedication and passion of these amazing volunteers and coaches.

Without them, and the tireless work of so many others, rowing would not be able to thrive across the country.

The calibre of nominations this year was extremely high showing the strength of volunteering in rowing.”

According to British Rowing, the award would be presented to ‘an exceptional candidate to recognise his or her achievements through a lifetime dedication to the sport’.

With almost 30 years under his belt, and well over 10 hours a week given to the club, Dave, 62 is a current Supervets World Champion, having won four times and been runner up twice in the last six years.

He has also coached winning U14 and U16 junior crews and seen podium success with adult crews at the world championships.

He is chief coach and selector, treasurer, and committee member, and was instrumental in gaining Clubmark accreditation for the club.

He is also the club’s CPGA and British Rowing representative.

Dave selflessly commits so much of his time to ensure rowers are safe, fit and healthy with opportunities for those that want to compete as well as those that want to row for fun. His charity has also extended beyond the club in fundraising and other community and youth activities, such as accompanying a young crew on a very challenging row from Cornwall to the Scillies to raise money for Cornwall Hospice Care.

Club chairman Christine Winans added: “He is undeniably one of the greatest local ambassadors for gig rowing, and we are extremely lucky and proud to have him as a member of Helford River Gig Club.”

Through the example set by Dave, Helford River Gig Club, one of the oldest gig clubs, embraces all the values of the sport of rowing.

It is a truly inclusive club with something for everyone, whatever the age, gender or ability.

For more information on Helford River Gig Club, visit www.hrgc.co.uk or email newrowers@hrgc.co.uk if you’d like to have a go at gig rowing.