Vintage Kingston: Octogenarian great-grandmother performs tandem parachute jump

Vintage Kingston: Octogenarian great-grandmother performs tandem parachute jump

Vintage Kingston: Octogenarian great-grandmother performs tandem parachute jump

First published in News

  • August 4, 2004

A great-grandmother took the plunge with her third parachute jump, writes Sarah Howden.

Mary Armstrong, from East Molesey, performed a tandem parachute jump on her 88th birthday.

She hoped the stunt would raise money for National Kidney Research, since two of her grandsons had undergone kidney transplants.

Her ambitions started when she watched a video of her granddaughter parachuting in Australia.

In 2003, she heard the Royal Hospital for Neurodisability in Putney needed fundraising volunteers, and seized the opportunity to make her dreams a reality.

But after completing her first jump, she discovered to her dismay that the video of her stunt had broken.

Desperate to capture the moment on camera, she did the jump again the following day.

In the process, she raised an impressive £2,000 for the hospital.

The Comet reported that Mrs Armstrong was excited at the prospect of another jump.

She said: “The first time I did it last June I was not a bit nervous. In fact I was looking forward to it. People said that I was brave – but I would have only been brave if I’d been frightened and had to make myself do it.”

Tony Butler, of the British Parachute Association, said Mrs Armstrong was the oldest person to do a tandem parachute jump in the UK.

He described her feat as “very unusual”, saying: “I’ve never heard of a lady doing one at that age.”

However, the Comet regrettably pointed out that she was 11 years younger than the oldest woman to tandem parachute: a 99-year-old Dane called Estrid Geertson.

For Mrs Armstrong, this jump was only the beginning. She said she hoped to parachute again in the future and even envisioned flying with RAF aerobatic team the Red Arrows.

In 2006 her ambitions were realised when she jumped from 12,000ft, four days after her 90th birthday.

  • August 5, 1964

A bomb was found in a school cupboard. The two-inch mortar bomb was discovered by the principal of Gate House School in George Road, Kingston.

The school had “no idea” where it came from.

It was safely disposed of by a bomb disposal team from Hounslow.

  • August 4, 1989

A man posed as a detective to make indecent telephone calls.

A housewife in Tudor Drive was asked if she had any boyfriends and whether she’d had clothes stolen from her washing line.

She said the bogus constable had a deep voice and sounded “very well-spoken and educated”.

  • August 4, 2004

Three hundred young people from all over the world spent a week brightening up Kingston.

The Soul in the City initiative was organised by nine Kingston churches.

Participants aged 14-30 offered to polish commuters’ shoes, cleared rubbish and ran mother and toddler groups, all for free.

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