Dunblane shooting survivor overcame demons to make it to final of SAS Who Dares Wins

Dunblane survivor Cat Turnbull has revealed how she had to overcome her own demons as she made it to the final of SAS Who Dares Wins.

The search-and-rescue paramedic, 37, not only survived the massacre in 1996 after she stayed home sick that day but she also lost her dad and boyfriend in quick succession.

Cat said: “On the course, you’re digging up past traumas and crap that you’ve dealt with or at least I felt I’d squashed down.

“Dunblane is part of who I am and it is my history but it’s not like I’ve held on to that survivor’s guilt until I’m 37 and all of a sudden that made me go on SAS.

“I wanted to challenge myself and see what I am made of. It left me broken but I couldn’t believe it when I made it to the end.”

Cat is one of only four contestants – all women – to survive the series and make it to the grievous finale tonight.

Getting screamed at by a special forces interrogator is supposed to be scary but for Paige Zima it provided a turn-on instead.

Cat Turnbull at school in Dunblane

After being gassed, abseiling off a tower and dodging bullets, the single mum of two, from Durham, had to face what’s usually the toughest part of the show – being tortured and interrogated by a team of former elite soldiers.

But former dancer Paige, 26, found it a walk in the park because she had the hots for her captor, a muscular hardman nicknamed Dilksy.

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She said: “That part of interrogation I actually thought was quite fun in a weird way because it was almost like testing to see how you could respond.

“And I shouldn’t probably say this but I quite fancied my interrogator. He was like an evil villain but beautiful – I couldn’t stop staring at him, he was so fit.

“I just remember thinking one thing and it literally was, ‘I don’t know why you want it so much but, no matter what, you’re remaining.’”


She wasn’t the only recruit to test the mettle of the interrogation team.

Bodybuilder and martial arts specialist Claire Aves, 36, found it so easy, she even fell asleep.

Claire, who survived an abusive relationship when she was in her 20s, said: “I don’t mind people screaming and shouting at me. I had it abusively for years. None of that bothered me in interrogation.

“When I got laid on the floor, I fell asleep and I was so annoyed when they woke me up to move me into a new stress position.”

Cat, Paige and Claire are joined by Shylla Duhaney, 33, in the first all-female final – on Channel 4 at 9pm tonight – in the show’s seven-year history.

claire birds
claire birds

Shylla was determined to prove her selective mutism, an anxiety disorder she’s had since childhood, was not going to hold her back.

She said: “I was always scared, from a very young age, to express myself or show weaknesses, so I just stop talking.

“But coming on the course, I wanted to show you can’t underestimate women just because we look smaller or might be physically weaker or don’t speak up.

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“At the end of the day, it comes down to mental resilience and whether you have the strength to keep pushing – and we did.”

Paige, who had to give up a career in ballet when she pregnant fell, agreed.

Shyla Duhaney
Shyla Duhaney

She added: “You could see a little spark within each woman and I think that actually was down to our own experiences and that hurt that we’ve felt in our lives.

“To be able to use that fuel to get to that point. There was something driving us.

“I literally went into it knowing that I would physically struggle. I’m not the biggest. I’m not the fastest, for sure. I literally was relying on my mental resilience, which I think is strong.

“People have told me I won’t do anything of myself and I’ve been determined to prove them wrong. And I think I have.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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