Tank-driving grandmother, 77, in bucket list hope

IT IS said that life begins at 40. But one adventurous grandmother has started fulfilling her daredevil bucket list almost four decades later.

To celebrate her 77th birthday last month Jean Shields, from Troon, fulfilled her ambition to drive an army tank. On Sunday the septuagenarian spent 45 minutes swimming with sharks.

And yesterday she revealed that her next aim is to drive a Formula One racing car.

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Mrs Shields, president of the RNLI’s Troon fundraising branch, raised almost £500 in sponsorship for the charity by diving in alongside tiger sharks at Deep Sea World at North Queensferry.

“It was fantastic. The sharks were big, but I enjoyed it, we never bothered each other, we just swam around,” she said.

Mrs Shields, who has six grandchildren, said: “Our family have always sailed, we are all sea people, my grandson has been on the Largs lifeboat crew for ten years and everywhere me and my husband went we found a lifeboat station to make a donation, he always said, if you don’t put in, you can’t take out.”

After the death of her husband, Jack, seven years ago, Mrs Shields started helping Troon lifeboat fundraising branch and became its president in March.

She said: “I am a mad woman, with a mission to raise money, and I just thought, I know what I can do, I can swim with sharks.

“It is fun for me and if it raises some money for the RNLI as well, it’s good.”

Her family bought Mrs Shields an army tank driving experience as a gift for her birthday on 27 June.

Explaining her ambition to drive one, Mrs Shields said: “When my family were young and I would be driving them to the seaside and you couldn’t get parked, I always used to say, if I had a Sherman tank I could just go over that, that’s why they got me the experience.”