Melton great-great-grandmother prepares for charity skydive

Great-great-grandmother Shirley Garratt, who is planning to do a charity skydive, pictured with friends from the drop-in club at Age UK Gloucester House in Melton EMN-180615-121445001
Great-great-grandmother Shirley Garratt, who is planning to do a charity skydive, pictured with friends from the drop-in club at Age UK Gloucester House in Melton EMN-180615-121445001
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A Melton great-great-grandmother is preparing to skydive out of an aircraft from 13,000ft to raise money for the air ambulance.

Shirley Garratt, who is 80, said her late husband, John, wasn’t keen on her doing the tandem parachute jump when she mentioned in the past that she wanted to do one.

But she told the Melton Times: “He used to say ‘you’re not doing that’ but he’s not around now to stop me.

“When I told my kids, one of them said ‘oh mum’ and another one said ‘go for it mum’.”

Shirley is being supported all the way in her challenge by her friends at the drop-in club she attends every week at the Age UK Gloucester House centre in the town.

“They reckon I’m really brave,” she said. “But I don’t think I am. I don’t think I will be nervous when I am in the plane - you can’t do much about it once you are up there.”

Shirley, who lives in Elgin Drive, has four children - Paul, Martin, Deborah and Shaun.

She has 11 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandson, who was born nine months ago.

Aside from her drop-in sessions, she keeps herself active by playing new age kurling at Thorpe Arnold and regular games of skittles.

She enjoys watching TV documentaries featuring the emergency services and this has led her to raise money through her shydive, which will be on August 18, for the air ambulance service covering Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire.

A friend has already written out a cheque for £240 to kick off her fundraising efforts ahead of the jump.

Shirley, who used to work as a ward nurse in a hospital, as a home help and at Egerton Lodge nursing home, raised more than £300 for the air ambulance charity at her 80th birthday, asking for donations in lieu of gifts.

She said: “I watch them fly over and I just think what they do is so important.

“They are rescuing people and many of them would die if they weren’t there.”

Shirley’s friends at Friday’s drop-in club were also excited by her challenge.

Isabelle Deans said: “She’s very brave but then nothing surprises me with Shirley because she’s sort of person.”

Janet Wheatcroft commented, with a chuckle: “She’s got guts.

“I wouldn’t do it because I’m frightened to death of heights.”

Go online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/shirley-garratt to sponsor Shirley.