Having been thoroughly entertained by the thrilling sporting events of the Paralympic Games, I thought the bar had been set at its limit. Surely nothing could top the unbelievable feats of physical endurance and mental stamina displayed by these ‘Superhumans’. How wrong I was! For whilst most of us were still basking in the feel-good-factor of an epic closing ceremony, one young girl was undertaking a challenge worthy of any gold medal.
Natasha Lambert from Cowes is just 15 years old and on 9th September she sailed round the Isle of Wight. Battling the elements on the high seas is difficult enough for any able seaman, but Natasha has an extra challenge to overcome.
Born with athertoid cerebral palsy, a condition which affects all of her limbs and speech, this remarkable teenager was able to operate her vessel, by means of a specially adapted system known as ‘sip and blow’. The modification enables her 21ft-long (6.4m) boat named ‘Miss Isle Too’, to be controlled by sucking and blowing into a tube inside her helmet. A small switch, which Natasha flicks with her tongue enables her to alternate between the sails or the rudder, allowing her to sail completely unaided.
Natasha completed the incredible 80km course in 12 hours and 30 minutes. It was a tough journey, with difficult weather conditions, but she made it and in doing so raised over £8,000 for Isle of Wight Scope, Cowes RNLI Life Boat and the Ellen MacArthur Trust. It is a formidable achievement and one which leaves people like me in complete and utter awe.
People like Natasha Lambert are put on this planet to amaze us and to show us that there really are no limits to what people may achieve. They are also shining beacons for disabled people around the world, encouraging them to live their life to the full.
Keen to go further, Natasha’s next goal is to sail the Atlantic. The physical ardour she would undergo on such a voyage would be immeasurable. Though having had a glimpse of her strength of character and iron will, I don’t doubt for a minute she will succeed.