Tributes pour in for disabled sailor Hilary Lister


Tributes have been pouring in following the death of inspirational quadriplegic sailor Hilary Lister.

Yesterday, the Canterbury Journal broke the news that Hilary, who lived at Dunkirk near Canterbury, had died aged 46.

In 2005, she made international headlines when she crossed the English Channel solo in a specially adapted boat which she controlled by blowing and sucking on straws.

Paying tribute, Mike Armstrong said: “What an absolute hero this woman was. Truly the best example of making the most of your life, even when not given the best luck.

“I remember hearing about the Channel crossing years ago, and that is impressive by anyone’s standards.”

Hilary Lister loved sailing

Carol Hayes said: “She was an amazing woman. The term inspirational is overused, but some truly deserve it.”

And Traci Garlinge added: “Had the pleasure of knowing this lady a few years back. Inspirational, modest and blooming funny.”

Hilary was able bodied until the age of 15 when she sat down on a train platform one day because her legs hurt and never stood up again. It transpired that she was suffering from reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a rare degenerative condition.

Despite losing the use of her legs and arms, Hilary adored sailing and trained on Westbere Lakes near Sturry.

After the cross-Channel journey, she sailed around the Isle of Wight and then around the whole coast of the Great Britain.

Hilary’s stepson Alex Lister said: “My stepmother was the definition of an inspirational woman. I never heard her complain once about her condition or the hand life dealt her.

“Instead, she turned a challenge into an opportunity and achieved things able-bodied people can only dream of.”

Hilary’s Dream Trust was established to help adults who are disabled or financially disadvantaged to fulfil their sailing dreams. Log on to in order to find out more or donate to it.


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