Sailor Hilary launches fund for disabled sports
INSPIRATIONAL sailor Hilary Lister officially launched a new funding scheme to help disabled people from Ashford achieve their sporting dreams.
Exactly 1,000 days before the start of the London 2012 Paralympics, Hilary unveiled the Active Ashford Disability Bursaryat Ashford Designer Outlet Centre last week. She will be patron of the fund.
Hilary was struck down by the degenerative disease reflex sympathetic dystrophy aged just 15 but became the first female quadriplegic to sail around the UK, using a specially constructed boat that allowed her to control the vessel by blowing or sucking air through two plastic tubes.
The bursary, run by Ashford Borough Council and sponsored by the designer outlet centre, will give disabled people across the borough the chance to take part in various sports and physical activity, whether they are newcomers or trained performers needing some extra assistance.
Hilary said: “It’s incredibly important that there is a separate sports bursary for people with disabilities.
“They often find it more expensive to train and to attend competitions than the able-bodied.” Designer Outlet manager David Maddison presented Hilary and Active Ashford with a cheque for £3,500 towards the bursary, and pledged his long-term support for the scheme.
He said: “Hilary is a true inspiration and she will be able to rely on our continued support in the vital years leading up to the 2012 Olympics.”
The bursary will help disabled sportspeople meet the costs of travelling, coaching, equipment and entrance fees to events and competitions, as well as introducing Ashford’s sporting facilities to people who previously felt unable to use them.
Chair of Active Ashford Graham Galpin added: “The amazing achievements of our patron Hilary Lister should act as an example to disabled sportspeople to utilise the bursary so that they can achieve their sporting goals.”
For further information about the bursary, visit the website www.activeashford.co.uk or call 01233 330232.
David Maddison, Ashford Designer Outlet, Graham Galpin, chairman of Active Ashford, Simon Harris, the council’s co-ordinator for Active Ashford, and Hilary Lister