Real Lives: 91-year-old daredevil takes to rapids to help children

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At the age of 91 most retirees are content with a quiet life.

But Gean Hodsdon prefers to plunge down white water rapids to help deprived children.

Mrs Hodsdon, from Linlithgow, hurtled down the River Tay in a tiny inflatable boat in a sponsored event to raise cash to help poor children in eastern Europe.

The adventure two weeks ago comes just one year after her first daredevil attempt – for her 90th birthday she went white water rafting and raised £7000.

The former Edinburgh University botany department employee is currently trying to raise £2500 for Blythswood Care, a charity that helps poor families in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.

Gean undertook the challenge to help to raise funds for a holiday camp for children in Moldova.

She said: “We were in a two-man canoe this time.

“It was very good fun and the weather was lovely. They took me from Kenmore to Aberfeldy. We didn’t go to the same place as we had with the white water rafting as the water was quite wild.

“I had no fears about doing it and I had all the safety gear on. I think they could have floated me down the river with everything they gave me to put on.”

Ms Hodsdon was told many pensioners now visit the River Tay centre since her first effort last year.

She said: “They told me there were more and more older people coming along to do white water rafting after I did it last year so it seems I have started a trend.

“It shows that we may be old but we are not yet finished.

“I’m hoping to go out to Moldova in the spring to see what my money has been used for.

“I’ll have to think of something different to do next year as people will be getting fed up of me doing white water rafting every year.”

Gean was inspired to raise money for the charity after seeing their work first-hand when she used to help at holiday camps in Romania.

The money was used to provide running water to the camp in Moldova.

Last year Ms Hodsdon told the Evening News that despite walking with two sticks and having two replacement knees, she decided that an ordinary birthday party would be “too tame”.

Blythswood Care area fundraiser, Margaret Tooth, added: “She approached the whole challenge with real enthusiasm and was totally undaunted by it.

“Her whole focus is to raise as much money as she can to help the children.

“She is a real inspiration to all of us.

“Gean helped out at holiday camps in Romania when she was in her 70s.

“It’s a real testament to her that she did that and also that she is still doing these challenges for us now.”

Gean is collecting donations on her website {http:// www.blythswood.org/projects/index.php?id=6|www.blythswood.org/projects/index.php?id=6}