Portchester grandmother-of-sixteen to climb 90ft mast of Lord Nelson ship for armed forces charity
A GRANDMOTHER of 16 from Portchester is set to face her fear of heights and open water for charity - by climbing to the crows nest of tall ship Lord Nelson on its penultimate voyage.
Cheryl Spencer, of Lansdowne Avenue, is one of the 38 crew on board the ship, which was due to leave London today.
The three-masted tall ship will sail to Caen in France to commemorate 75 years since the D-Day landings, before docking in Portsmouth next Wednesday.
Cheryl is one of 21 crew members on-board to raise money for armed forces charity SSAFA, which she has supported through rally car events and races since 2014.
But she said climbing 90ft to reach the crow's nest will leave her 'completely' out of her 'comfort zone.'
The 57-year-old said: 'I'm terrified.
'I do not swim, I do not like heights. I used to swim when I was younger, but now I only go up to my chest in the water.
'My husband said, “just do it”. He might regret that because I convinced him to come with me.
'The journey is 'not for the fainthearted' with the crew expecting gale force eight winds as it crosses the Channel, according to head of community fundraising at SSAFA, Jim Morrison.
He said: 'The crew has to make sure we do not run into any great big tankers that sail in those waters.
'There will be professional sailors from the Jubilee Sailing Trust on board to ensure everyone is kept safe.'
The fundraising crew members have raised more than £35,000 for SSAFA.
Jim added said: 'By the time they get back it will be closer to £40,000, after they have sent a few pictures back to friends and family.
Cheryl, a former civilian Chief Petty Officer, said the charity was 'close to her heart' due to family connections in all three of branches of the armed services.
She said: 'My granddad was in the army corp, my uncle was in the RAF, and my husband was in the Royal Navy.
'So I just have to do it. And life is too short.'
Lord Nelson, which is operated by Jubilee Sailing Trust, is due to be decommissioned in October.