Natasha completes channel crossing aided by Geoff

ARRIVING Natasha arrives in Dover
ARRIVING Natasha arrives in Dover
Tyler Smith

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A TEENAGER lived out one of her dreams as she crossed the English Channel using just her mouth to control her boat.

Natasha Lambert was born with atheroid cerebral palsy, which means she cannot control how she moves her limbs.

But her disability did not stop the 16-year-old, who crossed the 25-mile wide English Channel in 4hrs 45 mins.

Natasha was raising money for three charities, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and Portsmouth-based charity Wet Wheels,

She was supported by Wet Wheels founder and Shedfield sailor Geoff Holt MBE, who sailed behind her on his specially-adapted boat.

A diving accident left Geoff paralysed from the neck down. In 2007, he became the first quadriplegic yachtsman to sail around Britain.

He first heard about Natasha when she sailed around the Isle of Wight last September.

Geoff said: ‘There are only four disabled people who have ever sailed around the Island so when you hear about one your ears immediately prick up.

‘When I found out it was a girl of 14 who was using her mouth, I sent my boat Wet Wheels to support her and then I insisted I follow her during this challenge.’

Natasha’s mother Amanda and six-year-old sister Rachel sailed with Geoff as she crossed from Boulogne to Dover.

Amanda said: ‘This morning she was nervous but very excited.

‘We made sure she wanted to go ahead and set off.

‘Sailing gives her a huge sense of achievement. Her sense of self esteem just soars.

‘The fact that she can do this independently is brilliant, we are so proud. She might never be able to drive a car but she can sail, and to me that’s much harder.’

Natasha, from the Isle of Wight, sailed in a specially-adapted boat called Miss Isle Too, a mini transat.

Natasha said: ‘I have great difficulty staying still, and co-ordinating movements, I use a wheelchair and normally need help with all I do, but in my boat I can sail it completely myself.’

She controls her boat by a blowing a single straw and a flicking a tiny tongue switch.

Geoff said: ‘I am so proud of her. This is everything that I believe in. She absolutely loves it. It is not an easy sail and it has been quite choppy.

‘Natasha is like a fish in water when it comes to sailing. She only turned 16 on Friday and she has got a really good aptitude for sailing.’

Natasha arrived in Dover at 12.15pm and she had raised over £2,000.

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