Storms gave woman 'wind phobia'

A WOMAN has told how she developed a "wind phobia" after enduring a "terrifying” night during the 1987 storm.Shirley Lewin, 57, of Braintree, was a chef in a three-storey residential home for the elderly in Stanmore, Middlesex, when the storm hit 20 years ago.

A WOMAN has told how she developed a "wind phobia" after enduring a "terrifying” night during the 1987 storm.

Shirley Lewin, 57, of Braintree, was a chef in a three-storey residential home for the elderly in Stanmore, Middlesex, when the storm hit 20 years ago.

The garage cashier said the home was set in 17 acres of woodland and "trees fell like ninepins”. Ever since, the sound of the wind has bought on panic attacks.

Mrs Lewin, who is married with a grown-up daughter, says she studies weather forecasts and makes sure she is never alone on windy nights.

"I was working as a chef and asleep on the top floor when the storm hit in the early hours,” said Mrs Lewin.

"I was alone up there for a while and you could hear the wind howling. You could hear the trees cracking. They were falling like ninepins.

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"There were several staff and we had about 50 or 60 very elderly people to look after.

"We managed the get them all together downstairs. The electricity went off. The phones were off. It was terrifying.

"I didn't really think about it too much that night because we were so busy trying to look after the residents.

"But I realised I had got a problem a couple of weeks later. I started getting panic attacks. I just didn't want to go out in any wind at all. I couldn't bear it. And I've had this phobia ever since.”

Mrs Lewin said she had undergone counselling but had never been able to overcome her "irrational” fear.

"I watch the weather forecast very closely because I simply can't bear to be on my own if it's going to be windy. I certainly wouldn't want to be out,” she added.

"If my husband Richard isn't in I make sure I go to my sister, Joan's. I find that's the only way I can cope.

"It's hard to explain how I feel. I can't control it. I panic. A sort of rush comes over me. I find the only way I can cope is my being inside with someone and trying to take my mind off it.

"I suspect the problem may have started when I was on my own that night. My room was on the top floor and we were the highest point in the area.

"But I didn't notice it that night. It was afterwards. A sort of post traumatic shock.”