Inspirational Natasha tackles charity sailing trip without use of hands
An inspirational sailor Natasha Lambert, 17, is sailing single handed around the South West coast of England, despite not having use of her hands.
Natasha, who has cerebral palsy, embarked on her challenge on Thursday 24 July having enjoyed a star studded send-off from sailing legends Dame Ellen MacArthur and Geoff Holt MBE. They gave a special ‘Stand By To Go’ reception in Cowes to mark the beginning of the challenge – the 2014 Sea and Summit Challenge.
For the month-long project Natasha will be sailing her specially-designed 21ft yacht, Miss Isle Too, single-handed around the South West coast of England to Wales. She will then swap her boat for a special walking aid to climb Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons, the highest peak in Southern Britain.
Sip and puff mechanism allows Tash to sail
The teenager, who last year sailed across the English Channel, does not have use of her hands and sails her yacht using her mouth only to operate a 'sip and puff mechanism’ mounted inside a cycling helmet that was developed and engineered by her electrician father, Gary.
Joining Ellen and Geoff at the reception were members of Natasha’s family, including mum Amanda, dad Gary and younger sister, Rachel, her coach Phil Devereux, who accompanies Natasha on the boat, plus other friends and project supporters.
Fundraising for sailing charities
The Sea and Summit challenge will see Natasha sail 430 miles and climb 2,907ft to raise money for the RNLI, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and the RYA Foundation. She will also help raise the profile of sailing for people with disabilities.
All three charities were in attendance, with Debbie Blachford, RYA Sailability Manager and Mark Southwell, Lifeboat Operations Manager, Cowes RNLI Lifeboat Station, joining Ellen, who was there on behalf of the Trust.
Ellen said: “It’s been a fantastic day and I’m absolutely thrilled to be here to wish Tash well on her incredible adventure. She really is an inspiration to all of us and I think what she’s about to undertake is a monumental challenge but she’s totally up for it and I’m sure she will succeed.”
Natasha said: "I’m good, really excited! It’s better to be able to help people otherwise it would be boring. I can’t wait.”
Sailing has been Natasha’s big love since she was nine when she first went on holiday with the Calvert Trust. She then started sailing at home and spent two years sailing with the Even Keel Project and her local RYA Sailability.
To support Natasha's challenge visit www.missisle.com
For more information on getting involved in disability sailing visit www.rya.org.uk/sailability
Photos: Paul Wyeth / www.pwpictures.com