ROYAL APPOINTMENT

Despite 2001 being Keith Atkinson's first season sailing 'Formula' boards and

his first year as a Neilpryde / JP team member, he finished the season as runner

up in the UKWA National Series and UKWA Inland Formula Silver Fleet Champion

at Weymouth in October. He also represented Great Britain in both the European

Championships held in Poland and the World Youth Championships that took place

during August in Italy where he finished as second Brit and eighteenth overall

in his first ever world class event.

Keith joined this year's winter training migration to Maui, leaving England

at the end of January, so he was absent when in February the Borough of Dartford

recognised his windsurfing achievements by selecting him as their Under 21 'Sportsman

Of The Year' for 2001. His sister Marie, herself an international swimmer and

current Kent, British and European record holder, stood in for Keith at the

civic ceremony held in Dartford's historic Tudor Gate House and received the

award on her brother's behalf from the Mayor of Dartford.

Keith's father David, also a keen windsurfer, was keeping in regular contact

with him by phone, and had been expressing his reservations about him extending

his trip beyond the end of March, when the following morning's post brought

a letter, addressed to Keith, from the Lord Lieutenant of Kent formally inviting

him to attend a reception and luncheon to be held in Canterbury on Maundy Thursday

in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, following

the Maundy Service which in this Jubilee year is being held in Canterbury Cathedral.

It transpired that Dartford Borough had nominated Keith to represent them for

his service to the local community through his achievements in his sport of

windsurfing. When his father telephoned Keith he had to read out the letter

twice as he thought it might be a ploy to get him back to the UK earlier than

planned. However spurned on by his friends in Maui Keith was soon at the airport

booking a return flight for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

ENDS