A FURNESS pensioner fulfilled her lifelong dream by skydiving out of a plane to celebrate her 80th birthday.

Last weekend Sheila Hopkins, from Ulverston, did a tandem skydive at Cark Airfield, Flookburgh to raise £2,000 for Parkinson's UK.

"It was absolutely wonderful, I really enjoyed it," she said. "Everything went to plan, and my instructor was a very handsome young man who told me exactly what to do and when.

"I had a few qualms about the skydive before I did it, but I now I would definitely go do it again.

"My family and husband were there to cheer me on, but my husband couldn't look. He kept asking: 'Is she down yet?'"

Mrs Hopkins, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease 12 years ago, wanted to raise money and awareness for the charity.

Nicknamed 'Queen of the Skies', she has raised more than £1,600 towards her target and is still waiting for donations to come through.

After watching her granddaughter Danielle Reed do a skydive last year, Mrs Hopkins was inspired to follow suit.

"I told my granddaughter that I had always wanted to do a skydive, and she asked: 'Why don't you do it then, Nanna?'"

After getting the OK from her GP and a Parkinson's specialist, Mrs Hopkins decided to take the plunge, and husband Michael has been one of her biggest cheerleaders throughout the fundraising.

"I think my wife is an absolutely incredible woman," he said. "I'm in awe of everything she does."

For Mrs Hopkins, the jump was the fulfilment of a lifelong dream.

"This is something I have wanted to do since I was really young," she said. "I would see people jump out of aeroplanes and thought: 'Oh, I want to do that,'" Mrs Hopkins said. "It was such a wonderful experience. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was on the way down. My instructor and I saw a rainbow, which is very rare to see during a skydive. It was so incredibly beautiful, something that I will never forget.

"For anyone who is considering doing a tandem skydive, I can really recommend it. It looks scary but it's really not that bad."

Visit Mrs Hopkins' fundraising page at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Sheila-Hopkins