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  1. ITV Report

Family tribute to abseil pensioner

Gertrude Painter Photo: 4Sight/PA Wire

A 96-year-old woman who died moments before she was due to take part in her tenth abseil was an "amazing lady" who was doing what she loved best, her family said.

Gertrude Painter was in her kit, ready to descend 70ft (21m) from the roof of Crawley Hospital in West Sussex on Saturday, when she suddenly collapsed.

Despite efforts to revive her, Ms Painter, known as Gertie, was pronounced dead at the scene, prompting the second half of the charity abseil to be called off.

The pensioner was one of around 50 people taking part in the sponsored event for 4Sight - West Sussex Association for the Blind, which supports blind and partially sighted people.

Gertrude Painter Credit: 4Sight/PA Wire

As her family released pictures of Ms Painter on the day she died, they said in a statement: "Gertie was an amazing lady.

"She was spirited, full of character and was 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.

"This was going to be Gertie's tenth abseil and, although she would have been disappointed not to complete it, she would have wanted everyone to be inspired by her efforts, and to continue to give generously to such worthy causes."

Details of Ms Painter's death will be passed to the coroner.

Participants of the event had to be aged 14 or over but the charity said there was no upper age limit. Its website said: "If you think you can do it, you probably can!"

A statement from 4Sight said: "We are extremely saddened by this tragic event and our thoughts are with her family at this time."

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said it sent three crews to the scene following reports that a participant at the event had suffered a cardiac arrest.