In an exclusive interview with HELLO! magazine, Penny Lancaster has shared her experience of climbing a mountain to honour fallen police officers. Penny, who recently joined the City of London Police as a special constable, took part in Light the Lakes, an annual fundraising event that has so far raised over £30,000 for the Care of Police Survivors (COPS) charity.
As HELLO!'s exclusive photos showed, it was the experience of a lifetime for the model wife of Sir Rod Stewart.
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"It was a magical experience. When we reached the top, it felt like we were on another planet, it was almost deafeningly silent," she told HELLO! after scaling the 1,539ft peak of Lingmoor Fell and lighting up 2,000 flares just before dawn broke.
WATCH: Behind the scenes on Penny Lancaster's challenging hike
"The climb was uplifting, heart-warming and touching and it was challenging on many levels, but so rewarding. It needed to be tough otherwise we wouldn't have felt that grit and determination."
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Telling HELLO! of the unforgettable moment when they proudly waved their flares to light up the pitch-black night sky just before dawn, Penny said: "We could see the lights from the other peaks. There were streams of smoke where the flares had gone out, which looked like early morning mist. It was really special."
Penny, 50, is patron of COPS, a charity dedicated to helping the surviving families of police officers and staff who have died on duty or in relation to their duty.
"We were scrambling up the peak amongst sheep and heather and falling slate, and the rain started going horizontal. But on reflection, there was lots of laughter, camaraderie and sharing of stories. I'm so glad I could be part of it."
Penny took part in fundraising event Light the Lakes
She also told the magazine about the heartfelt conversation she shared with Lissie Harper – whose husband PC Andrew Harper died on duty in 2019 after attending a burglary in Berkshire. "Lissie said to me that Andrew would have loved to have done this climb with her, and I said to her: 'He is, he's with you now. And when we're at the top of the mountain, you'll be closer to him still.' We held the flares and hugged and remembered Andrew and all the others. It was really special."
Two months on from qualifying as a special constable, Penny also tells the magazine how Sir Rod and their sons Alastair, 15, and Aiden, ten, have supported her all the way.
"I want to show my boys that it's important to be whatever you want to be in life and fulfil every part of yourself, even if it's considered dangerous," Penny said. "I always have excitement and butterflies for my days on duty – it's my biggest thrill each week."
To read the full article, pick up the latest issue of HELLO! on sale now. Subscribe to HELLO! to get the magazine delivered free to your door every week or purchase the digital edition online via our Apple or Google apps.