The man who created the UKSA, has died aged 87


Noel Lister gave Great Britain a taste for flat-pack bedrooms and kitchens by creating the furniture store chain MFI.

It made him a multimillionaire and gave him the time to indulge his love of yachts.

He built the 34 metre, Whirlwind XII, and spent a decade sailing the world with his wife, Sylvia.

One day he said to her: “I can’t have all this money and not let children enjoy the sea as much as we do.”

Having raced at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, he bought a waterfront centre there in 1987 and opened it as The UK Sailing Academy for underprivileged children.

The UKSA swiftly expanded from offering only 60 beds and dinghies to instructing courses on yachts and help in setting up careers in sailing. Lister remained closely involved: “You can take a bunch of underprivileged lads with chips on their shoulders, but once they’ve crossed an ocean together, they’re ten feet tall.

The UKSA has subsequently moved into training crew for work in superyachts.

He moved to the Bahamas in the 1990s with his wife, who survives him along with their two children.

Lister was renowned for being shy and modest; in 2010, he refused to go to a ceremony when given an award for his sailing work.

At sea, he preferred the wilds of Alaska to parties in the Mediterranean.