THE founder of a Southampton-based yacht broker who made headlines round the world with his pioneering plan to develop a ship to fight plastic pollution in the oceans has been awarded British Marine Trades Association Personality of the Year.

Richard W. Roberts CEO of TheYachtMarket and co-founder of the Ocean Saviour project received the award at a ceremony held at St Mary’s Stadium.

The award is given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the industry over the years.

Richard, who is the vice chairman of British Marine’s Sailing Committee, is passionate about the marine industry and dedicates his time encouraging more people onto the water.

His firm TheYachtMarket has sponsored the Southampton Boat Show for the last two years.

Last year, Richard unveiled details of his pioneering project, Ocean Saviour. Inspired by BBC’s Blue Planet II, Richard announced his plans to launch the worlds-first, self-powering 70m tri-deck clean-up vessel, which will be purposefully engineered to locate, retrieve and recycle plastic from the ocean.

Richard is also involved in several community initiatives, including the Community Cup, a challenge for young people who have faced tough personal challenges. The cup gives them the chance to experience the thrill of sailing and takes place annually in conjunction with the Southampton Boat Show.

TheYachtMarket also works closely with Wetwheels, which builds disabled people’s confidence by providing access to the sea in specially modified powerboats.

In June, Richard, along with his co-founder Simon, will be abseiling 170-metre from the top of Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower, to raise awareness and vital funds for this charity.

Richard said: “This is the greatest honour of my career to date.

“It has been a fantastic 12 months; we celebrated 15 years of TheYachtMarket, have supported a number of incredible charities, helped organise local community initiatives and of course launched our biggest project to date, Ocean Saviour, which we are extremely proud of."