Knebworth teacher conquers phobias with daring stunt

Natalya Norris.

Natalya Norris. - Credit: Archant

A pre-school teacher will celebrate her victory over crippling anxiety by leaping from an aeroplane, and falling 15,000 feet.

Natalya Norris 2.

Natalya Norris 2. - Credit: Archant

Natalya Norris of Knebworth, who told the Welwyn Hatfield Times she would have been too frightened even to board an airliner five years ago, will perform a skydive near Las Vegas, Nevada, in August.

The 22-year-old, who lives in Deanscroft, said: “For pretty much all my adult life, anxiety has controlled my life. It has ruined a lot of friendships for me.”

The routine of Monk’s Walk School and college kept her condition at bay through adolescence, but her problems escalated when she started work at St Michael’s Pre-School, Woolmer Green.

So excessive was her fear of catching an illness from a child, that she would wash her hands until they bled.

Natalya was eventually diagnosed with five psychological conditions - agoraphobia ( fear of open spaces), obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, depression, and emetophobia (fear of vomit).

While she knows she will never be completely cured, she achieved a very substantial recovery last year, thanks to counselling and cognitive-behavioural therapy.

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These were provided by the NHS, but Natalya’s daring stunt will raise money for the charity that gave her crucial early guidance - Anxiety UK.

She said: “They were so supportive. They made me feel I was not the only person like that.”

The charity provided pen pals for her to discuss her distressing condition with, and helped her get official treatment through her GP.

Natalya, who still works at St Michael’s, has been largely anxiety-free since October, and is looking forward to exploring the delights of Las Vegas with a friend, Ellie Allen.

Anyone who can help her reach her £500 target can contribute online at