Disabled woman aims to sail for a record

PUBLISHED: 00:12 22 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:39 06 July 2010

A HIGH seas heroine was due to arrive at Lowestoft yesterday (Thursday) as she continues an amazing quest to become the first disabled woman to sail solo around Britain.

A HIGH seas heroine was due to arrive at Lowestoft yesterday (Thursday) as she continues an amazing quest to become the first disabled woman to sail solo around Britain.

Supported all the way by Lions Club's of British Isles and Ireland, Hilary Lister headed for the most easterly point after starting her marathon voyage with a series of day sails beginning from Plymouth on May 21.

Sailing clockwise along the coasts of Cornwall, Wales, the East Coast of Ireland, Scotland, the Caledonian Canal, the East Coast of England and home to the finish line in Dover.

But before sailing on to Dover, Hilary made her only stop in Suffolk - with Lowestoft being the county's only port of call.

And meeting her upon her arrival, the Lowestoft Lions provided support during her short stay.

A delighted Lowestoft Lions president, Robin Smith, said: “We are providing support during her short stay, in arranging the special showering facilities needed for people who are quadriplegic, and also seeking a quiet place for Hilary and her support crew to rest before the next leg of her journey.

“The Lions are supporting Hilary's charity with a donation and it is hoped that she will be able to accept the cheque on her departure.”

Hilary Lister is a truly remarkable woman. Able-bodied until she was 15, she was captain of her school netball, hockey and swimming teams, she was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy when a teenager.

Despite this Hilary went on to qualify as a Bio-Chemist at Jesus College, Oxford University as well as playing the clarinet and touring Europe with the Oxford County Youth Orchestra.

Hilary lost the use of her arms in 1998 and is now totally quadriplegic, only able to move her head, eyes and mouth.

But this circumnavigation quest was launched not just a personal challenge, but also to raise awareness for disabled sailing; to show that disabled people can live exciting and challenging lives; to challenge people to rethink their views on disability; encourage everyone to live their dreams and finally raise money for the charity, 'She's Dream Trust.'

Using a special 'sip-puff' system for controlling her boat, all functions, including setting the sails and steering the boat, are controlled by the sailor's breath.

By sucking or blowing down two straws, one to sheet in and out the sails, and one to move the rudder from side to side, the helmsman is able to control their boat entirely independently via a series of motors and winches.

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