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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 August 2005, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Disabled sailor crosses Channel
Hilary Lister attempting to become the first quadriplegic to sail the English Channel
Hilary Lister broke the record for the longest sailing by a quadriplegic
A paralysed woman has become the first quadriplegic sailor to cross the English Channel.

Hilary Lister, from Kent, used controls powered by her breath to navigate her boat from England to France, reaching Calais after six hours and 13 minutes.

The mechanism she uses is similar to one on her wheelchair and has two straws connected to switches to control the sails and steer the vessel.

After arriving in France the 33-year-old said: "I am just thrilled."

Mrs Lister, from Canterbury, has been a quadriplegic for four years, because of a progressive degenerative disease, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, which has worked its way up from her ankles to her neck.

She can now move only her head, eyes and mouth and took up sailing two years ago as a way to boost her self-confidence.

By completing the Channel crossing Mrs Lister set a record for the world's longest solo sail by a quadriplegic.

Mrs Lister attempting to become the first quadriplegic to sail the English Channel
Hilary Lister took up sailing after a friend recommended a club
She said: "I cannot tell you what it feels like.

"It is just tremendous, I am so grateful to everyone who made it possible.

"It is very emotional for me. I was absolutely certain that once I got in the boat I could make it to France."

She said she had previously been "a sporty, tomboy type", who lived an active life and enjoyed canoeing, swimming, rugby and hockey.

"I want to get able-bodied people to rethink their views about the disabled," she added.

"We do not need wrapping up in cotton wool and can go out and do silly or dangerous things if that's what we want to do."

Mrs Lister, who lives with her husband Clifford, used her Channel crossing to raise money to allow sailing opportunities for other people with disabilities.

She now hopes to sail round Britain next year.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch Hilary Lister sailing her boat



FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Irish IndependentQuadriplegic sails solo to France - 1 hr ago
KUTV British woman becomes first quadriplegic to sail solo across English Channel - 2 hrs ago
ABCNEWS.com Quadriplegic Woman Sails English Channel - 8 hrs ago
Townsville Bulletin Disabled woman sails Channel - 10 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Disabled woman sets sailing record - 10 hrs ago
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