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Hilary Lister to circumnavigate Bahrain

Fresh challenge for the brave quadraplegic aailor

Monday March 22nd 2010, Author: Jo Gawith, Location: Bahrain

Heroic British quadriplegic yachtswoman, Hilary Lister, today officially launched her latest challenge, to sail solo around the Kingdom of Bahrain. The ‘Sail Bahrain’ initiative has been developed to help raise awareness and funds for local disabled charity, Bahrain Mobility International (BMI).

Hilary, 37 from Kent, England who is paralysed from the neck down, will undertake the challenge in April, on board her specially adapted 20ft yacht ‘Arty’, which she controls by sipping and puffing on three straws, linked to an innovative Power Assist System.

The journey around the coastline of Bahrain is approximately 100 miles and is expected to take Hilary four days. She will set out from Amwaj Marina on 13 April and sail clockwise, covering approximately 25 miles each day, before stopping to rest overnight, at various marinas around the island. Anticipated stops are currently scheduled for The Marina Club, Bahrain Sailing Club, Bahrain Yacht Club and Durrat Marina, where fund-raising activities will also take place.

The project is being managed by ‘Sail Bahrain’, an initiative launched last year to help leverage sailing activities in Bahrain and whose founder, Andrew Pindar OBE, has been a long-term supporter of Hilary. The campaign has also earned the support of several local partners, including Events and PR Company Warren MacLeod and leading shipping, logistics and marine services provider, GAC Logistics, who are overseeing the delivery of Hilary's boat from the UK. Sail Bahrain’s Volvo 60 racing yacht will be used as a support vessel, transporting Hilary’s shore crew and ensuring that she is closely monitored, throughout the challenge.

Hilary hopes her voyage will challenge people’s views on disability and raise valuable funds for BMI, which provides social rehabilitation and services to disabled people throughout Bahrain.

Speaking ahead of a live web press conference, hosted at the GAC offices in Bahrain office today, Hilary said, "I am really looking forward to my visit to Bahrain and embarking on this exciting challenge. Before I was introduced to sailing in 2003, my life had reached rock bottom – I was in constant pain and even contemplated taking my own life. Since then, I have discovered a new sense of freedom on the water, which has enabled me to achieve things I never imagined possible. I hope my journey around Bahrain will encourage both disabled and able bodied people, to pursue their own dreams and help raise much needed funds for Bahrain Mobility International.”

Hilary's story is a remarkable tale of courage. She first began to experience pain in her knees at the age of 11. By 15, she was confined to a wheelchair and was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, an incurable disease which eventually led to her losing the use of all her limbs. Determined not to let it ruin her life, she gained a place at Oxford University and achieved a 2:1 degree in biochemistry, despite having to dictate her papers, with an epidural drip on her spine.

It was however, through her achievements on the water, that Hilary shot to fame and captured the hearts of people around the world. In August 2005 she made international headlines, when she became the first ever quadriplegic sailor to sail solo across the English Channel. She followed this success in July 2007, sailing solo around the Isle of Wight and last August completed her greatest achievement to date - 'Hilary's Round Britain Dream' – an incredible feat, which took just over 14 months.

Hilary will arrive in Bahrain on 6 April, for three weeks, where she is set to take part in a number of fund raising initiatives and share her incredible experiences. She has been invited to attend the BMI's annual fundraising golf tournament, the ‘Shaikh Faisal bin Hamad Al Khalifa Memorial Trophy 2010’, on April 9, which will take place on His Majesty The King’s private golf course, in Safriya. Following her challenge, she will also attend the Bahrain International Boat Show from 20-24 April at Amwaj Marina.

Speaking on behalf of Bahrain Mobility International, Adel Sultan, VP of BMI commented, “We are immensely grateful to Hilary, Sail Bahrain and all the other associated partners, for agreeing to undertake this challenge on behalf of BMI. Hilary’s courage and determination is very humbling and we are all very excited about meeting her and welcoming her to Bahrain. The BMI seeks to offer a wide range of opportunities for disabled people in Bahrain. With the help of high profile initiatives such as this, we hope to exceed our 2010 target of BD 60,000, which will allow us to complete the swimming pool and recreational facilities and buy much needed mobility equipment.”

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