Bideford mum talks of frightening ordeal; after she and her sons had to be rescued by police helicopter from Braunton Burrows.
A Bideford teacher rescued with her young sons by police helicopter after becoming lost on Braunton Burrows has spoken of her frightening experience in the hope it will help others.
A commonplace early evening walk on Sunday, September 29 became a scary ordeal for Natalie Curtis and her boys Caleb and Bailey, aged 10 and three.
They set off about 5.45pm, a regular occurrence to allow Natalie’s husband Scott, who works nights as a baker, get some sleep.
But night fell quickly on the Burrows and the three became hopelessly disorientated in the dark, unable to find a path to the car park through the featureless dunes.
Natalie, a primary school supply teacher, picks up the story: “We walked a bit further, with Bailey getting a bit tired and slow. I looked around and realising we were lost as everything looked the same, began to feel scared and panic. I burst into tears.
“Caleb said ‘call the police mum’, which I did. They were very helpful and sent a policeman from Braunton who knew the area. Meanwhile the boys were beginning to get cold and it suddenly got very dark.”
It was too dark for foot patrols to find the trio, so the police helicopter was diverted on its way back from a job at Launceston.
“Caleb was quite frightened at this point, but Bailey wasn’t fazed at all,” continued Natalie.
“I had managed to calm down, as I knew I had to for the boys. Being out in the dark, not knowing exactly where we were and not seeing or hearing anyone can be pretty frightening.”
The helicopter arrived at around 7.55pm, the family were helped aboard and in a trice they were back at their car.
“When the helicopter arrived I was relieved and nearly cried with happiness,” said Natalie.
“We are extremely grateful to all who helped us and we thanked them. I felt like a terrible mum putting my boys in a situation like that and vow to plan more next time.
“I came forward because I wanted to advise people and help them avoid the same situation and also to show how much a helicopter is still needed here.
“This has made me aware I should always take drinks, coats, snacks and a torch wherever I go with the boys and preferably a map or compass. Or go somewhere more familiar!”