Losing weight saved my life! Couple who escaped Tunisian terrorist by running up five flights of stairs say brush with death inspired them to continue weight loss journey

A couple who were caught up in the Tunisian terror attacks credit losing WEIGHT with saving their lives – after they were forced to run up five flights of stairs to escape the gunman.

Lee and Anne Turnock

Lee and Anne Turnock

Lee and Anne Turnock escaped with their lives after they fled the ISIS terrorist on a Tunisian beach – but say they were only able to get to safety because they had lost weight before their holiday.

The pair, from Werrington, Staffs, who were both clinically obese before they started dieting in May 2015, say their horrific experience made them even more determined to shed the pounds – and they’ve now lost a whopping nine stone between them.

Paramedic Anne, 28, tipped the scales at 19st 4lb, and struggled to squeeze into a size 24 dress – while husband Lee weighed almost 19st and needed an XXL t shirt.

The decided to battle the bulge together in May 2015 and signed up for the Cambridge Weight Plan – and had each lost about two stone before they went on their summer holiday to Tunisia.

Lee and Anne Turnock on holiday in Tunisia

Lee and Anne Turnock on holiday in Tunisia

But after being forced to run for their lives, they realised that their weight loss had saved them – and after shedding an extra five stone between them, Lee has now launched a new career as a consultant for the weight loss firm.

Lee, 29, said: “It was an absolutely horrific experience and not one I’d want to repeat. I have never been so scared in my life.

“There’s no doubt that if we’d both been packing the extra pounds we would have struggled to run as fast as we did. We were only a few metres from the beach where the terrorist was shooting.

“I’d never run up five flights of stairs before and I didn’t even know I could.

“When we came back, it was almost easy to say that we were going to just enjoy every moment and scrap the diet – but then we realised that we might not have been here if we hadn’t lost the weight.

“Any time I felt like giving in, I just thought back to running up those stairs and knew I should stick at it.”

The couple had both tried and failed to lose weight and keep it off before – but it was only when Anne went for a TV makeover and had to give her dress size that she realised she needed to do something about her weight.


“I was in denial and had put my dress size down as 18”, she said, “but nothing would fit and the production crew had to go out and buy me clothes in a size 24. It was so humiliating.”

Both Anne and Lee had managed to shed almost two stone in the first two months on the Cambridge Weight Plan – and were looking forward to a holiday abroad feeling trimmer.

Anne said: “It was only the third day of our holiday and I wanted to go and sunbathe on the beach, but Lee had a blister on his foot and didn’t want to get sand in it, so we stayed by the pool.

“I’d been reading my kindle and had just leant down to put it away when I head banging. I didn’t really think anything of it at first, I thought it was fireworks. but it kept coming.

“I turned round and saw a woman behind me dive under her deckchair, and saw people running from the beach. Lee just looked at me, grabbed my hand, and said: “run”.

Lee and Anne Turnock

Lee and Anne Turnock

“I didn’t even know I could run, but we just went as fast as we could into the nearest building, a hotel. We were trying to help other people too, who were old or infirm, but it was just complete chaos.

“We ran up to the first floor, but the corridor at the top of the stairs was a dead end.

“We ran up four more flights of stairs, and then someone in a room pulled us in – they were a British family and there were about 10 of us hiding in the room.

“We barricaded ourselves in and tried to get information about what was happening from our relatives back home.

“After a couple of hours, we were told it was safe to come out, and we were put back on a plane home within hours.”

Lee added: “When I realised the bangs we could hear were gunfire, I thought it was a gangfight amongst locals that had got out of hand.

“It was only after we’d climbed the first flight of stairs that I looked out of the window and saw this man with a gun, shooting tourists around the pool area. I was terrified, but I just had to get Anne and get us both to safety.

ee and Anne Turnock

ee and Anne Turnock

“One of the men who were were hiding in the room had been separated from his family, and we found out later that he sadly lost his dad in the attacks. It was just awful.”

When they arrived back home, they both continued to follow the diet plan – and 6ft 3in Lee has become a Cambridge consultant after hitting his target weight of 14st.

Anne has also slimmed to 15st, and a size 14 – and when she reaches her own target weight, she also hopes to become a consultant and inspire other people to lose weight with her story.

She added: “The whole thing has changed our outlook on life. We’re both lucky to be here, and I want to make the most of every moment.”