'Flower girl' Heather and friends take a cool dip for charity

Torbay Weekly

Heather Turner, who nearly died during surgery for a brain tumour and is living with life-changing consequences, is taking part in a charity fundraiser with a twist – she and 20 friends will be swimming in the sea with their floral headgear.

Heather, 49, was 24 when she was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, a low-grade brain tumour.

But following surgery, during which she nearly died and suffered severe nerve damage, she has been left with facial palsy and is deaf and blind on the right side.

She is now working with the charity Brain Tumour Trust to raise awareness of the need for more effective treatments and to find a cure and is fundraising to help support the research.

Heather said: “It took me 10 years to recover from the damage caused by surgery and I have lost count of the number of operations I have had to make me look ‘normal’. Swimming was the only thing that came back naturally – I had to learn how to walk and even eat again.

“My lop-sided face and problems with balance led many people to assume that I was drunk.

“Three years ago, I took up open water swimming. The first time was in March when I have since found the sea is at its coldest. It was so painful it took me five attempts to get in, but since then I haven’t looked back. Amazingly the body soon adapts to the cold and warms up. I find it quite empowering and love being in nature.”

Heather is taking part in Brain Tumour Research’s Wear a Hat Day with Flowers which takes place on Friday June 18 during British Flowers Week.

The charity is encouraging people to don their best floral hat creations, from petalled panamas to blooming berets, flowery fedoras to botanical beanies, and get together – virtually or in person – to raise funds.

Heather and around 20 friends will don their floral hats and swim together.

For more information about the floral fundraiser and to register go to www.braintumourresearch.org/fundraise/wear-a-hat-day-with-flowers

To donate to Brain Tumour Research inspired by Heather, go to www.braintumourresearch.org/donation/donate-now