YOUNG sailors motivated by a training session with a sailing superstar have helped to raise nearly £20,000 for youngsters less fortunate than themselves.

The Salterns Sailing Club in Lymington has been raising money for Children in Need over several months. But the campaign’s coordinator thinks that the chance of the private lesson with Olympian Ben Ainslie played a part in their raising a record breaking £19,584.

From September to November 15 the youngsters raised as much cash as they could with sponsored car washes and other activities. The children aged 10 to 14 also took to the water for a 24-hour sailathon.

On shore there was a silent auction, a tombola, a cake sale and a nail bar and time trial races.

Auction items included a 45-foot boat for a day previously used by Richard Branson from an anonymous donor.

Former member and now GB sailor Hannah Snellgrove, from Lymington, presented the youngsters with commemorative T-shirts and prizes for the races.

The club, which teaches youngsters to sail in dinghies and is run entirely by volunteers, has raised £92,000 in the past 14 years for Children in Need and every year raises an average £7,000 to £8,000.

Nikki Mans, the club’s Children in Need coordinator, said it was thanks to the efforts of the young people, parents and the generosity of the local community that had resulted in the huge sum being raised.

“We were flabbergasted – to be honest we were hoping to break £10,000 overall and we broke it within hours,” she said.

“We began to realise offering a Ben Ainslie private lesson really motivated the young sailors.

“I think the focus from the sailing club’s perspective is fortunate children having an option to help less fortunate children.”

The main prize for the most funds raised during the sailing club’s Children in Need campaign was an hour’s private coaching with Sir Ben.