Fenland woman dies after being struck by lightning while playing golf with husband in Turkey

Sarah and Alex Oldham
Sarah and Alex Oldham
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A Fenland woman has died after being struck by lightning while playing golf with her husband on a romantic holiday in Turkey.

Sarah Oldham (39) from March suffered a cardiac arrest after being hit by the bolt - containing up to one-billion volts of electricity - as she sheltered under an umbrella when it started to rain.

Sarah and Alex Oldham

Sarah and Alex Oldham

Her husband Alex looked round after hearing “an almighty crack of thunder”, only to see Sarah lying unconscious on the ground.

He called for help and carried out CPR on his wife until paramedics arrived at the Sueno Golf Hotel near Belek on Turkey’s southern coast where the couple were staying.

The care home manager died 12 days after being struck having been airlifted back to a hospital in the UK.

Alex (36) said: “We went out for a round of golf and despite the forecast being clear it started to rain about an hour and a half into the game.

Sarah Oldham

Sarah Oldham

“We heard a crack of thunder but it was a long way off. It then really started to rain hard.

“Sarah went to one side of the fairway, which is surrounded by thousands of really tall trees, and I went to the other. We both crouched down and put our umbrellas up.

“There was an almighty crack of thunder, I turned around and couldn’t see Sarah’s umbrella.

“I ran over to her and I realised she had been struck.”

Sarah and Alex flew out to the resort on November 17.

Tragedy struck on the third day of their holiday as they enjoyed their third round of golf during their break.

Sarah was rushed to the local hospital in Belek before being transferred to the main hospital in Antalya.

She was later flown home to the UK in a private jet but died at Peterborough City Hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning (December 2).

Alex said: “I knew there was not much hope, but we didn’t want to give up hoping while there was a even a glimmer of a chance.

“Once we got to Peterborough I was told she only had a few hours left so her mum and I sat with her and said our goodbyes.

“What I loved about her was the fact we could play sports together.

“We enjoyed playing tennis, table tennis as well as golf and she really went all out to be the best she could be.

“In recent she years she really improved to such an extent I had to up my own game to beat her.”

Sarah was a qualified netball coach also enjoyed running and was planning to complete a marathon.

Following her death, she has been described as “simply the best company and the most loyal friend you could ask for.”

Her boss Malcolm George said: “Sarah proved to be a conscientious, caring employee.

“I will miss her support and guidance and her down to earth sense of humour.

“Sarah was loved and respected by all who knew her and will be greatly missed by both staff and residents alike.”

Members of the Wisbech Netball League held a minute’s silence in her memory before the start of matches on Wednesday evening.

Her teammates added: “Sarah loved a challenge and thrived on making people smile. She would always be the first one on the dance floor on a night out and the last to leave.

“She was very competitive and worked hard at improving herself in anything she took part in which then rubbed off on everyone else around her.

“Sarah was simply the best company and the most loyal friend you could ask for.”

Sarah’s funeral will be held on December 21 at Fenland Crematorium in March.

Sarah’s friend Lydia Molyneux, who is also Lady Captain at March Golf Club where she and Alex are members, said: “Sarah was loved by all who knew her at March Golf Club.

“Not only was she the most talented lady golfer at the club, but she was also a great friend to many.

“She supported the ladies section whenever possible and always enjoyed her golf.

“She had a kind and generous nature and was always smiling.

“She also played at county level for several years and we were immensely proud of her.”

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said: “Lightning strikes the ground in Britain around 300,000 times a year, and is a risk that must be considered by people out walking, playing golf, fishing, swimming, climbing and taking part in other activities in the open.

“Around 30 to 60 people are struck by lightning each year, and on average three of these will be fatal.

“There is no absolute protection from lightning, but measures can be taken to reduce the risk of getting struck and the injury severity.

“The 30/30 rule is a good way of ensuring you are sheltering during the most risky parts of the storm.

“If the flash to bang is 30 seconds in length or less, you should seek shelter, and staying inside is advised until 30 minutes past the last clap of thunder.

“This ensures that any distant strikes at the beginning of the storm - lightning can travel up to 10 miles - or trailing storm clouds at the back of the storm do not take anyone by surprise.

“Ideally, seek shelter inside a building. If you are exposed to the elements with nowhere to shelter, make yourself as small a target as possible by crouching down with your feet together, hands on knees and your head tucked in.

“Or, the inside of a car is a safe place to be, and lightning will spread over the metal of the vehicle before earthing through the tyres.”