Hartford sailor Judi Figgures is to be presented with one of the Royal Yachting Association’s (RYA) most prestigious awards in recognition of her contribution to the sport over 20 years.

Judi, who was made an MBE in 1999, will receive her Francis Elkin Award from the Princess Royal, who is president of the RYA, at a ceremony in London on Friday (November 21).

The 68-year-old was paralysed from the waist-down in 1966 after a spinal injury and then discovered she had Multiple Sclerosis. She overcame huge challenges and setbacks to compete in sailing at the highest level and has been a great inspiration to other disabled people as an instructor for the British Paralympics team and founder of the Grafham Water Sailability club (GWS), which nominated her for the award.

She told The Hunts Post she was “taken aback” when she heard she was to receive the award which is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to enable disabled people to become involved in sailing.

“It is amazing and I feel very humbled to receive the award, but I couldn't do what I do without all the other people who have supported me and are involved in sailing.

“I really wish I could share the award with those people as everything I have achieved would not have been possible without them.”

Judi says she plans to continue competing in the sport and “help other disabled people to sail and race”.

She launched the GWS charity, which provides sailing instruction for people with disabilities, in 1994, with only one dinghy and a group of volunteers. Judi's nomination from GWS read: “In the year Grafham Water Sailability celebrates its 20th anniversary, it is especially fitting that its founder, Judi, receives this award. Judi is an inspiration to sailors both at GWS and throughout the UK. She has brought a new experience to many who might otherwise have thought such an activity was out of their reach.”