Volunteer Jackie lighting the way

Jackie Patton with two members of the Belfast Kayak Club, John Stuart (L) and Greg Miller (R)
Jackie Patton with two members of the Belfast Kayak Club, John Stuart (L) and Greg Miller (R)

Prime Minister David Cameron has recognised a retired north Down teacher with the new Point of Light award.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s office commended Bangor woman Jackie Patton for starting “a volunteering revolution that brought a major world championship event to her local sailing club” – Ballyholme Yacht Club.

Ms Patton is the first person in Northern Ireland to win the award which recognises people who are making a change in their community.

“Jackie knows the difference volunteers can make and was determined to ensure Bangor reaped the benefits,” said Mr Cameron.

“Her relentless enthusiasm and ambition created a network of dedicated people ready to support the Ballyholme Yacht Club to deliver a world-class event in their local community. I’m delighted to make Jackie Northern Ireland’s first Point of Light.”

Ms Patton, who currently works as a director of the club on a voluntary basis, started off volunteering in 1976 when she joined Ballyholme Yacht Club.

She also volunteers for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

In 2013 she established a sea kayak race to raise funds for her local Bangor branch in which 54 boats took part.

The race took place again in May this year, increasing to 66 boats, and raising more than £1,600.

And now the race has been adopted by the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland and is now in the annual race calendar.

Telling of her delight at the award, Jackie said: “Being a volunteer my life is richer than it has ever been, as I spend my days in the service of others.”

The Prime Minister makes daily announcements of winners to celebrate, encourage and promote volunteering and the value that it brings to the country.