Page last updated at 19:01 GMT, Friday, 5 March 2010

90-year-old tackles river rapids


Silver surfer's daring river raft in aid of charity

A West Lothian great grandmother has celebrated her 90th birthday by white-water rafting after claiming a quiet lunch with friends would be "too tame".

Gean Hodsdon, from Linlithgow, said extreme sports sounded much more "her scene", although her doctor recommended not to attempt sky-diving.

She went down the River Tay to help Blythswood Care, which aids poor families in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Mrs Hodsdon hopes to raise £5,000 for a water pump for children in Moldova.

Speaking after her adventure on the River Tay torrents, Mrs Hodsdon said she had "great fun."

'Safety gear'

She added: "Someone said I was just going to be going across the river but I made sure we went down some of the rapids.

"It was great fun and quite an eye-opener. I didn't realise how much safety gear I would have to put on.

"I like the water normally but this wasn't very peaceful. My knees bore up fine after all.

Thanking the staff at Dunolly Adventures for making her seven-mile adventure possible, as well as her friends and everyone who donated money, Mr Hodsdon added: "They got me in and out of the boat without getting too wet so I'm happy about that.

"Falling in would not have been nice - there is still ice on parts of the river so I'm sure it would have been pretty cold."

Mrs Hodsdon had earlier told BBC Scotland: "For 12 years I've gone out to a children's camp in Romania and this is an outreach they're doing into Moldova.

My friends all think I'm mad
Gean Hodsdon

"I've been to the camp once and it's pretty horrendous. We've got no idea here what it's like. The kids only come for a week but they love it.

"My friends all think I'm mad. They're coming with me but I think it's to make sure I come off at the end alright."

The grandmother, who walks using two sticks and has two replacement knees, said her doctor would not allow her to do the parachute jump, which was her first plan for her birthday.

She said: "The doctor thought it might be a problem if I had a hard landing."

"I just had to find something else other than a parachute jump and we happened to be passing and I saw it and I went in and booked it.

"I've always been an unconventional person."

Mrs Hodsdon, who used to work at Edinburgh University's botany department, became involved with the charity 20 years ago, after she moved to Linlithgow.

Margaret Tooth, Blythswood Care spokeswoman, said: "Gean is quite amazing, she is an inspiration to us all."

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