Knutsford woman faces up to 40-year lifts phobia after German hotel trauma

4:42pm Wednesday 4th June 2014

A KNUTSFORD woman has conquered her 40-year phobia of lifts after a traumatic experience in a German hotel.

Val Dawson, of King Street, came face-to-face with her fear whilst on a whistle-stop tour of Berlin, Leipzig and Colditz last month.

In the final days of the trip, Val and her friends checked into a hotel in Dresden – but panic set in when Val discovered the hotel had no stairs for guests.

Val, who harboured an intense fear of lifts, has managed to avoid using them for almost half of a century.

“I could feel my heart-rate double immediately,” she said. “I said ‘what do you mean there is no stairs?’ After getting the manager, I was given the keys to the emergency stairs.”

Val reached her room after using the emergency stairs and got ready for her night out. When leaving her room to meet her friends in the lobby, slightly disorientated from the travelling, she was confused as to where the staircase was.

Val spotted a green exit sign and headed through the heavy door – but only when the door slammed behind her did she realise she wasn’t in the right place.

“I tried to reopen the door with the emergency key but it didn’t work – that is when the panic started,” she said.

“I went up and down the stairs bashing on the doors but nobody could hear me. It was clear I wasn’t in the hotel anymore, I was in an empty office block.”

A distressed Val tried to call Diana, her friend in the lobby, but the line kept cutting out, so she texted her son in England. He called the hotel alerting the hotel staff that his mother was locked somewhere in the hotel but no one could not work out where she was.

Terrified, Val offered up a prayer during her ordeal and, half an hour later, her prayers were answered.

“Out of nowhere, a little old man came to water the plants in the office,” she said. “I rushed out babbling like a crazy woman.

“I was ashen when I joined my friends, who were still waiting in the lobby.”

That night, Val faced her fear. Flanked by friends, she went up in the lift to get to her room and the next morning, travelled back down the lift on her own.

Now back home, Val is determined not to slip back into her phobia by practising travelling in lifts with the support of her friend – and said she is forever thankful to the little German caretaker who set her free.

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