It was a triple celebration for one former soldier last week as he scooped a prestigious award, passed his RYA Yachtmaster assessment and got engaged on the same day.

Dave Williams was presented with The Croft Yachtmaster Award by Falmouth-based sailing charity Turn to Starboard in recognition of his efforts progressing through their ‘Zero to Hero’ RYA Yachtmaster training programme.

The coveted annual award was presented by CEO Shaun Pascoe at Turn to Starboard’s Dining In Night at The Falmouth Hotel on Saturday, 23 November.

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Turn to Starboard CEO Shaun Pascoe (left) with Senior Sailing Instructor Paul Miller (centre) and former soldier Dave Williams

Dave said: “To be presented with The Croft Award was completely out of the blue. I’m very much aware of how much I have been helped by the charity, yet you’re not always aware that what you’re doing is having a positive effect on other people too, so I feel honoured to have been chosen.”

Earlier that day, the former Army captain became a fully-fledged RYA Yachtmaster after successfully completing a two-day assessment on the water. The significant achievement followed the completion of a series of shore-based and practical courses including RYA Competent Crew and RYA Day Skipper.

Dave, 33, first set sail with Turn to Starboard in November last year after being medically discharged from the Army. He was left traumatised by his experiences in Afghanistan and suffered a loss of confidence after a diagnosis of severe Asperger’s syndrome.

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He added: “Before I heard about Turn to Starboard I was struggling and things hadn’t been going very well for me. I seemed to be in a routine where I was trying my best, but would fail, then try and fail again – it wasn’t a good cycle. Completing the Competent Crew course was the first week where I felt I had done something right. It was brilliant and a breath of fresh air. To eventually pass the Yachtmaster qualification at the end was a continuation of that learning journey and although it was a challenge at times, it was definitely worth it.”

Dave scored a hat trick of successes when his girlfriend, Talissa, accepted his marriage proposal at the glitzy event.

“I asked her if she would like to go outside and see the full moon and went down on one knee to propose. Thankfully she said yes! Talissa is from New South Wales in Australia and I’m from South Wales, so it’s clearly a great match.”

Turn to Starboard use sailing to support Armed Forces personnel affected by military service. The charity helps serving and retired military personnel with physical injuries or mental trauma, and their families, to benefit from the therapeutic effects of sailing and the sea.