NEWS
20/08/2018 11:28 BST | Updated 20/08/2018 11:34 BST

Hilary Lister, First Quadriplegic Person To Sail Channel Solo, Dies At 46

"Her actions inspired others."

Record-breaking yachtswoman Hilary Lister, who became the first quadriplegic person to sail the English channel solo, has died.

Lister, who completed the historic journey in 2005 by sucking and blowing on straws to control her boat, had reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a progressive neurological disorder.

She went on to set a further record in 2014, crossing the Indian Ocean.

Alex Lister, her stepson, told the BBC that Lister, from Dunkirk, Kent, had “not been well for a while” after a number of operations.

Describing her journey across the channel, he said: “People thought she was nuts but she went out and did it and she was on cloud nine.”

A number of fans inspired by her feat took to social media to share their sympathies and pay tribute.

Lister used a wheelchair from the age of 15, and studied Biochemistry at Oxford. While she was working towards her PhD, she gradually became unable to use her body from the neck down. 

Of her love of sailing, she told the BBC in 2014: “It’s just incredible, that feeling of utter freedom, the ability to move around and go where I want, when I want.”

Lister won eight awards for her work, including a Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year award.