Karen’s on a high after conquering her fears

Karen Bryant overcomes her fear of heights by going to the top of Blackpool Tower with other members of Just Good Friends, from left:  are Christine Howe, Fran Shaw, Margaret Cooper, Karen Bryant, Jenny Bettaney and Bev Sykes
Karen Bryant overcomes her fear of heights by going to the top of Blackpool Tower with other members of Just Good Friends, from left: are Christine Howe, Fran Shaw, Margaret Cooper, Karen Bryant, Jenny Bettaney and Bev Sykes

No wonder Karen Bryant was on a high after her visit to the top of Blackpool Tower.

It enabled the 51-year-old to conquer a lifelong fear of heights – with a little help from her friends.

Karen’s dream of finally being able to celebrate such skyscraping landmarks in all their glory was turned into reality as part of the Just Good Friends companionship group’s ongoing ‘bucket list’ series of making wishes come true for its members.

After admitting to being terrified as she stepped into the lift for the journey up the 518ft seafront icon, Karen overcame her fears to not only tackle the Walk of Faith glass floor overlooking the Promenade but bravely took the stairs to the next level.

“I was really nervous but I knew I just had to go for it - and thanks so much to Just Good Friends for making it happen,” said Karen,

“I have always been really scared of anything at height but where better to try and get over that feeling than at the top of Blackpool Tower?

“It was such a good feeling after I had done it – I really was on a high – and now I’d love to have a go on the big wheel on Central Pier - but I think The Big One at the Pleasure Beach would be going a bit far.”

Karen, who is medically retired as she suffers from fibromyalgia and arthritis, moved to Fleetwood from Devon three years ago.

Just Good Friends was set up in St Annes five years ago and has quickly grown to some 250 members and when Karen read about it, she knew it was the ideal opportunity to make friends.

As well as regularly travelling south to be part of the group, Karen has also inspired the formation of a branch of the group in Fleetwood - the first to outside South Fylde - and it meets every Tuesday morning at the port’s Highbury Club.

A group of fellow Just Good Friends members, including founder Bev Sykes, accompanied Karen up the Tower to offer their support and Bev said: “Karen really was very brave and it was wonderful to see her take that climb to the highest level after tackling the Walk of Faith.

“The people at the Tower were brilliant and it was great to see the nervous look on Karen’s face turn to relief and joy that she had conquered her fear.

“Now we really looking forward to seeing her go on the big wheel. I am so glad we were able to make her wish come true.”

Just Good Friends’ ‘bucket list’ series of wishes started practically a year ago to the day with 80-year-old Pauline Donnelly from Ansdell flying a kite for the first time at the St Annes Kite Festival.

Since then, other wishes come true have included taking a ride on the Flying Scotsman, a hot air balloon ride - and accompanying former world champion Carl Fogarty on his motorcycle.

Strictly Come Dancing super-fan Christine Howe meanwhile achieved her dream of dancing at the Tower Ballroom - partnered by no less than Strictly’s 2016 champion Ore Oduba.

Bev said: “Our members have come up with all sort of brilliant ideas and we are always keen to do what we can to make them come true .

“I thought of the bucket list’ idea after my daughter Gemma delighted me by arranging for the dance group Diversity to come to St Annes and surprise me for the TV show Surprise Surprise.

“It was a brilliant feeling that I will never forget and I thought it would be nice for the Just Good Friends members to sample the same feeling.”

Along with the weekly meeting in Fleetwood, Just Good Friends hold regular meetings in St Annes and Lytham and Bev, who is full-time coordinator, is keen to expand the group further.

Details of how to get involved from 07557 734233 after 6pm.