Sue strides out in the Sahara in aid of the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance

We've done it! Sue and her fellow trekkers after completing their fundraising walk across the Sahara
We've done it! Sue and her fellow trekkers after completing their fundraising walk across the Sahara

Perhaps it is no surprise Sue Turner has booked a holiday to Canada next year.

She’s not too bothered about lying on a beach.

Ships of the desert: Camels provided vital support in the trek across the desert

Ships of the desert: Camels provided vital support in the trek across the desert

Instead, a chance to see polar bears, explore ice fields and ride with huskies promises to be rather different to her last ‘venture’ abroad.

Sue, 58, has just returned from the Sahara Desert – and it was anything but a holiday!

Sue was among a group of brave volunteers who trekked 50 miles (100kms) across the Sahara in just five days ... and in temperatures near to 50 degrees!

Little wonder she’s still getting sand out from between her toes...and counting her blisters.

Picnic in the desert: The trekkers take a well-earned rest and tuck into food prepared by chefs.

Picnic in the desert: The trekkers take a well-earned rest and tuck into food prepared by chefs.

Sue, from Horncastle, had good reason to complete the marathon in one of the world’s most hostile environments.

Sue was raising money for the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance.

Her husband John, a farmer who came from Donington On Bain, was working in Wragby when he was rescued by the ambucopter after an injury almost caused him to lose his lower leg.

John was helping a friend get his horse over a deep dyke when he and the horse slipped. The horse trod on his calf, nearly severing his leg.

Sue Turner - kitted out for the trek

Sue Turner - kitted out for the trek

The Air Ambulance was quickly on the scene, meaning John’s leg could be saved.

In a tragic turn of a events, John was involved in another accident while at work.

On the second occasion, he was trampled by a herd of cows.

While the ambucopter was able to pick him up and take him to Hull Royal Infirmary, the incident claimed his life on April 29, 2014.

Sand, sand and more sand:  The trekkers head across the Sahara dunes

Sand, sand and more sand: The trekkers head across the Sahara dunes

Sue says the county’s lack of A roads means that the Air Ambulance is a ‘vital service’.

She adds:: “We’re so rural, with a huge lack of major roads.

“Without the Air Ambulance, so many more lives would be lost.”

Devastated by the death of her husband, Sue decided to fundraise for the Air Ambulance.

When she heard about the ‘Desert Trek’, Sue couldn’t say no.

She admits when the going got tough in the Sahara, the memory of John drove her on.

Sun explains: “I didn’t want to let him down and I didn’t want to let down all the people who had sponsored me

“To be honest, there wasn’t any time during the five days when I felt like giving up but it was really, really hard.

“People who know me will tell you I am very determined. Once I set my mind on something I’ll do it...no matter how crazy it might seem !”

Sue, who works for the Lincolnshire Co-op as a Post Office Area manager, even had to cut short her holiday on the Greek island of Kos to take part.

She adds: “I’d booked the holiday and paid for it but I wanted to do the trek as well.

“So, I left Kos halfway through the holiday, flew to Athens and then on to Marrakech in Morocco – all on my own. That was more scary than the trek itself!”

Just travelling to the fringes of the Sahara was an adventure.

Sue was in a convoy of mini-buses along with other volunteers, the majority raising funds for the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance.

There were also two very important guides. Camels and a couple of chefs joined the ‘party’ later.

She adds: “Our destination was called ‘end of the road’ - and that’s literally what it was

“The road ended and all you could see was sand. It was an incredible sight. We all looked at each other and wondered: ‘What have we done?’

The trek was spilt into two half days and three full days with a lengthy lunch break.

On the first section, one woman felt unwell but soldiered on only to be taken to hospital the following day.

Sue says: “She was devastated, but it was so incredibly hot. The first day was 48 degrees. I’d never experienced anything like it.”

Each evening, the group pitched their tents and were treated to a freshly cooked three course meal.

Sue says: “The food was incredible. The chefs travelled with the camels, separate from us.

“Sometimes, we could see them in the distance. I bet they knew a short cut while we were going round and round in circles!”

Each walker was given one and a half litres of water in a morning – and the same amount in the afternoon.

Sue admits, it was ‘plenty’ for her but other people struggled.

No-one else dropped out although the party was often strewn out across the desert.

Sue admits the Sahara was full of surprises.

She explains: “In some places, the ground was stoney and very hard

“In other places, there were miles and miles of dunes – some of them were huge.

“Climbing up and down was one of the toughest parts of the challenge.

“There’s no way training on Mablethorpe beach would have helped cope with that!”

The trekkers were also caught in a frightening sand storm and had to cover their faces.

Sue admits completing the trek was a relief.

She adds: “We actually drew a line in the sand for the finish. Everyone hugged each other, shouted and jumped about and cried when we made it. There was a sense of emotion and relief.”

The trekkers returned to a hotel by mini-bus for a celebratory dinner–and a welcome shower!

Sue recalls: “It didn’t exactly go to plan. Everyone wanted a shower at the same time so there was no water.

“Fortunately, the hotel had a pool so we all jumped in that!”

Sue says she has made life-long friends with fellow trekkers and they have already plans to meet.

However, she is determined to carry on fundraising although she won’t be repeating the trek, saying it would be ‘unfair to ask the same people for the same thing again.’

“Everyone was so generous,” adds Sue. “I can’t thank them enough.”

Two weeks on from the Sahara and even Sue is complaining about our weather.

And Canada? She is planning to journey from the Niagara Falls in the East all the way to the West Coast.

It’s no surprise that this time, she will be travelling by train!

• Sue’s initial target for the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance was £1,125 but she’s raised over £6,650.

Donations can still be made here