Jim Searle: Inspirational sailing teacher of Norfolk children

An inspirational teacher of sailing, Jim Searle, who has died aged 77, encouraged generations of children in Norfolk to take to the water.

For three decades, he gave unstintingly of his time to make sailing as accessible as possible for schools in the county and further afield.

Born on the Isle of Wight, he learned his craft as an apprentice boat builder at East Cowes. His natural skill with boats and especially working with wood helped him with his other love, restoring and renovating many craft. After spending time delivering boats, he decided to train as a teacher at Bath, where he also qualified in technical drawing.

It was this combination of skills, coupled with great enthusiasm and a willingness to help people, which proved ideal when Norfolk County Council's education committee appointed a new sailing adviser in 1970.

He was always prepared to lead and was one of the first coaches to qualify under the Royal Yachting Association's new dinghy sailing scheme.


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Living in the heart of the Broads at Martham, with his wife, Jill, they made the centres at Filby and Ludham a centre of sailing excellence for so many youngsters. Latterly, they were still involved in the challenge of delivering practical training when the Norfolk Schools Sailing Association, which now has charitable status, was formed in more challenging financial times.

He could rarely resist an opportunity to give a new lease of life to a boat, which was invaluable when he had the responsibility for managing the fleet of traditional wooden craft at Ludham.

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When he saw a virtually derelict craft lying in a dyke, he embarked on another successful restoration project. It was to take seven years to complete restoration of their pre-war traditional broads cruiser, the Daffodil.

When he retired, he took up racing and together they won a number of trophies and awards in recent years, sailing Wayfarers at Rollesby as well as Lasers. He was appointed commodore of Rollesby Broad Sailing Club in June 2001 where again, he encouraged many children to take up sailing

He was made a life vice-president of the Norfolk Schools Sailing Association in 1993 alongside his wife, who also received the same honour.

He leaves a widow, Jill, and six children, Christopher, Richard, Gavin, Clive, Lynne, and Ian, and grandchildren.

? A service will be held at Colney Wood Burial Park on Monday, August 22 at 2.30pm.

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