The fearless pensioner who suffered a suspected heart attack during a charity abseil died “doing what she loved best”, her grieving family revealed today.
Brave Gertrude Painter, 96, was a keen fundraiser and had already gathered around £10,000 for different charities before the planned descent at the weekend.
And devastated relatives said that the “spirited” pensioner – known to friends as Gertie – would have been disappointed not to have completed the drop, which would have been her 10th charity abseil.
Gertie, who was visually impaired, died on Saturday at the start of the 70ft descent from the roof of Crawley Hospital in West Sussex.
Today, her family, who live in the town, paid tribute to the “amazing lady”.
They said: “She was spirited, full of character and much loved by her family and friends.
“She passed away doing what she loved best – raising money for charities that supported children with cancer and people with visual impairment.”
Gertie was doing the abseil in aid of 4Sight, West Sussex Association for the Blind. She was one of around 50 people taking part in the event.
She was kitted out and ready to tackle the drop when she collapsed. West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service sent three crews to the scene around lunchtime.
Despite efforts to revive her, Gertie was pronounced dead at the hospital, prompting the second half of the charity abseil to be called off.
Martin Pearson, chief executive of 4Sight, said: “Gertie raised about £10,000 for charities, not just for us, over the last few years.
“She was a veteran to these events. It is a very sad day for our charity.
“Our thoughts now are with her family and friends who will miss her terribly.
“We would also like to thank those people who were with Gertie on the day, the staff and volunteers from the various services who attended to Gertie at the time.”
Thrill-seeker Gertie’s previous abseils included a 75ft drop from the roof of Fisher Tower at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, for CLIC Sargent.
Hannah Auer, of the children’s cancer charity in East Sussex, said: “Gertrude was a brave and dedicated volunteer.
“We were enormously saddened to hear of her death and our thoughts are with her family.”
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