Record-Breaking Disabled Sailor Hilary Lister Dies at 46
Hilary Lister, the first disabled woman to sail around Britain solo, has died at the age of 46, her charity, Hilary’s Dream Trust, announced Saturday. Lister was an accomplished sailor who broke numerous records.
The British native sailed her way around the country by using a sip-and-puff assistive device, which allows a person to control technology by blowing or sucking air out of tubes. The system is used by disabled people to control computers, phones, etc, and for Lister, an entire yacht.
Her famous sail happened in 2009, and the International Sailing Federation said the journey put her in the top four sailors in the world. Lister became the first quadriplegic person to sail solo across the English Channel in 2005. In 2007, she was the first quadriplegic woman to sail solo around the Isle of Wright.
Lister was diagnosed with a degenerative disorder called reflex sympathetic dystrophy as a teen. She began using a wheelchair at 15, and became paralyzed from the neck down at 27 while studying for a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Jesus College, part of the University of Oxford.
Hilary’s Dream Trust supports adults with disabilities and others with financial hardships who want to sail. Fans and friends shared their condolences on Twitter.
Desperately sad news about @HilaryLister. Such an inspirational athlete and woman. The world is a sadder place for her loss today.
— Sarah Greene (@wedders26) August 20, 2018
To the rest of the world, @HilaryLister was the sailor who broke records – to me, she was the closest of @UniofOxford friends. We had such a laugh together and then went on our travels around Europe. She was strong, determined and had the handy skill of charming everyone she met
— Andrew Peach (@andrewpeach) August 20, 2018
sad news today as we hear of the passing of Hilary Lister. A woman I admired for her tenacity. Her actions have inspired others in developing enabling technology and for others to get out on the water and find their wings. https://t.co/ltunSX4jjC
— Jayne Toyne (@JayneToyne) August 19, 2018
Photo via Facebook