Petrified by heights: Leah gets stuck in for charity

ON THE WAY 'Cllr Leah Turner on the abseil. 'Picture: Mick Young (132487-04)
ON THE WAY 'Cllr Leah Turner on the abseil. 'Picture: Mick Young (132487-04)

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SMILING on the outside but a bag of nerves on the inside, gutsy Leah Turner overcomes her fear of heights to help improve parks on Hayling Island.

The 64-year-old local councillor mustered all her courage to abseil down the five-storey Ward Court, off Sea Front.

And she wasn’t alone.

More than 200 people of all ages abseiled down Ward Court as part of a community drive to buy new play equipment for the two parks on Hayling.

Leah was joined by 99-year-old ‘Daring’ Doris Long, who completed the abseil with her great-grandchildren Faith Dibley, 10, and Josh Dibley, eight.

The event, which was supported by Hayling police and fire service, is expected to raise more than £10,000.

Describing her experience, Leah, who used to run a taxi firm, said: ‘I was petrified.

‘One thing you don’t realise watching abseiling is you have to have the faith to lean back.

‘My biggest fear was freezing.

‘I also got a text from my niece saying whatever you do aunty, don’t dangle.

‘I did not look down – if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.’

Leah was helped to the ground by a PCSO and felt a sense of achievement.

‘The cheers went up,’ she said.

‘I’m really pleased I did it.

‘I conquered a fear.

‘But the biggest thing is raising a considerable amount for play equipment in the parks.’

She was joined by other local councillors – Andy Lenaghan, Frank Pearce, and Gerry Shimbart – on the abseil.

Leah added: ‘Andy Lenaghan agreed we would go together.

‘He was such a superstar. He started off just before me and he waited.

‘It was such a wonderful community event.

‘It was like a carnival down there.

‘People are asking what we are doing next!’

Doris, from Hayling, said: ‘It was great.

‘Faith lost her footing on the way down, but they were very good.

‘I was very proud of them.

‘I gave them a bit of help on the training.

‘I never thought they would like to do it, being so young.

‘They must take after me!’

Leah said she wanted to thank Hayling PCSO Debbie Surridge, who spent many hours organising the event.