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Ludham great-gran's skydive with family!

PUBLISHED: 09:55 16 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:27 30 June 2010

A gutsy great grandmother is bridging the generation gap by leaping from a plane alongside her teenage great grandson.

It is the second time that 80-year-old Sylvia Clarke, from Ludham, has taken plunge.

A gutsy great grandmother is bridging the generation gap by leaping from a plane alongside her teenage great grandson.

It is the second time that 80-year-old Sylvia Clarke, from Ludham, has taken plunge. The first was to celebrate her 73rd birthday - when she promised the nine-year-old lad they would skydive together when he was old enough.

Now that Karl Howarth, from Neatishead, is 16 the date has been set - and even more family members have been inspired to take part.

In all Sylvia will be joined by four generations - her sons Neville Clarke, Garry Clarke, granddaughter Sharon Crouchen (Karl's mum) and grandson Jason Crouchen (Karl's uncle) who is making the trip from his home in Sacramento, USA.

Sylvia said that even at 80 she was not one to dip her toe in the water, preferring to dive right in. As one of nine children, there were few opportunities for adventure growing up in Norfolk but since retirement she has looped-the-loop in a glider in Spain and taken up martial arts and line-dancing. Troubled only by a twinge of arthritis in her knee she is in good health and doing ironing and housework for working relatives as well as her herself.

“I am really looking forward to it,” she said. “Most of us are quite sporty. Neville has done 16 marathons and Garry is into white water rafting. I am a little bit nervous this time because my knees are not quite so good. Last time it was a good experience and I enjoyed it, especially the first bit when you just drop, it really feels lovely. Then suddenly the parachute opens and you just drift. It is the landing part I am not too keen on.”

Sylvia had to give up martial arts to care for her husband Rex who died 11 years ago. The couple have four children, three boys and one girl. At 14 Sylvia went to work in a Norwich shoe factory, later doing land work. She also worked at Cantley sugar factory and at Yarmouth Stadium, behind the bar and cleaning.

She usually raises money for Macmillan Cancer but the charity has a policy of not supporting dangerous activities so she is collecting for Lennox Children's Cancer Charity instead. All family members are paying the £180 to jump so all sponsorship will go to the charity. The jump is next Saturday at Beccles Heliport. Sponsor forms are circulating in her home village of Ludham while other family members are gaining pledges via Facebook and electronic means.


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