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Dog proves a 'star' for OAP in fall ordeal

By Katia Harston, Chief Reporter Friday 7th February 2014
Norma Hanby and Star

Pensioner Norma Hamby's dog Star really does live up to his name.


For the lurcher-cross spent 14 hours overnight snuggled up to his 81-year-old owner when she slipped and fell while out walking on the Trans Pennine Trail near her home at Gilroyd.


Norma, of Wilson Walk, slipped walking her 15-year-old lurcher on January 22, the week Barnsley plummeted to subzero temperatures.


She was found the next morning by a cyclist who was on his way to work.


Former Coal Board worker Norma was told by medical staff that had it been any other night that week, she wouldn't have survived as temperatures had dipped below freezing.


Widow Norma, who moved to Barnsley from Tyneside in 1955 with husband Lawrence, had taken Star for a later-than-usual walk at about 4.30pm.


She said: "I was out and it was getting a bit dark so I took a bit of a short cut up a banking and slipped.


"I tried pulling myself up on a tree branch and got so far up but my knees gave way. I couldn't move so I laid down for a bit."


In a double blow, the fall meant diabetic Norma had not had her insulin that evening and she felt the cold more than usual, sending her into hypothermic shock.


"I was so cold, I've never shivered as much in my life," she said.


"Star was with me all the time though and kept sitting near me and when I shouted for help he would come and give me a paw. He never left my side."


As the hours went by, Norma's hopes of being found dwindled and she was convinced she was going to die.


"I kept hoping someone might go past but no-one did.


"I was laying there a long time and as I laid there I said to myself 'I'm going to die'. I was sure of it.


"After that I must have dropped to sleep."


The next thing Norma remembers is being awoken by a noise at about 8am, by the cyclist from Penistone she knows only as Ben.


"He thought I was a pile of clothes that had been dumped but then he saw the dog," she said.


"That's when I heard him say 'oh my God'.


"He came over to me and said 'I'm Ben'. He took his coat off and put in on me and then rang an ambulance and friends of mine to come and get Star.


"I'm sure if it wasn't for Ben I wouldn't be here now. He saved my life."


Norma was treated for hypothermia at Barnsley Hospital and was discharged after a week. However, she says Star has not been himself since the ordeal.

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