Marian celebrates 80th birthday with 15,000ft skydive

YATE pensioner Marian Gilpin decided she was not going to take turning 80 lying down – and went on a skydive from a plane at 15,000ft.

Marian is the chairman of the Yate-Genieri Community Link, a charity which has been supporting the development of a village in The Gambia in West Africa for some 36 years. 

Residents of the village are aiming to convert an old schoolroom into a community centre, so Marian decided to raise £1,750 to support the project.

Despite being “totally terrified” by the idea, she decided to mark her 80th birthday by gaining sponsors for a skydive to help fund the new centre’s floor, windows, door and electricity supply.

Taking off from an airfield at Dunkeswell near Honiton, in Devon, Marian was strapped to an instructor for specialist firm Skydive Buzz and came back down on target.

Marian back on the ground after her skydive

She said: “I think I would have been more scared if I had translated the 15,000ft into three miles!

“The most scary part was kneeling by the open door of the plane, waiting for the green light, but being tied to a young, strong instructor who clearly loves his job, and with other skydivers lined up behind me, there was no turning back.

“The free-fall part lasted one minute and then the parachute opened, and we stopped falling so fast and could enjoy the view across to Portland Bill to the south and across miles of wonderful countryside to the north.

“This was an amazing way to celebrate my 80th year, but most importantly to raise some money to improve the lives of our friends in our linked community of Genieri.”

Marian has now raised more than £1,800.

To donate, visit Marian’s Crowdfunder page.