First disabled woman to sail solo around Britain, Hilary Lister, dies aged 46

The first disabled woman to sail solo around Britain has died at the age of 46.

Hilary Lister completed her record breaking feat in 2009, just six years after taking up sailing.

Friends and family confirmed the sad news on social media and paid tribute to the inspirational sportswoman.

Hilary, from Canterbury, in Kent, was born able-bodied but was left wheelchair-bound by the age of 15 due to a degenerative condition.

She studied biochemistry at the University of Oxford, but her condition deteriorated while she was studying for a PhD and at 27 she became paralysed from the neck down.

Hilary took up sailing in 2003 and was able to steer and adjust the sails by blowing or sucking on straws, known as ‘sip puff’ technology linked to an innovative Power Assist System.

In 2005 she sailed the English Channel, breaking a world record and fulfilling her own ambition.

Two years later, she sailed solo around the Isle of Wight and in 2009, she sailed solo around Britain.

After receiving sponsorship to fulfil her own dreams, the big-hearted sportswoman founded the charity Hilary’s Dream Trust, which aims to help other disabled and disadvantaged adults.

Hilary won a number of accolades for her achievements, including the Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration in the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Awards, and Vitalise Woman of Achievement Award, Kent Messenger reports.

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