A GREAT-GRANDMOTHER is preparing to celebrate her 87th birthday with a fundraising challenge that is not for the faint hearted.

Kitty Grove-Stephensen, from Middlesbrough, will be taking part in a sponsored flight in a microlight aircraft with East Durham Microlights next week to raise money for MS Research.

But this is by no means Kitty's first extreme challenge, as she previously abseiled off the Transporter Bridge and travelled on a zip wire at speeds of more than 100mph.

And despite turning 87 tomorrow, she has no plans to slow down – and is even planning another abseiling challenge when she reaches 90.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, Kitty said she had initially wanted to take part in a wing walk or paragliding, but she could not get approval from her doctor, therefore her chosen challenge was her "last hope".

"It all started as a bit of accident – I did a MA in local history at Teesside University in 2007 and I was asked what my next challenge would be, and I said I might jump of the Transporter.

"I really didn't mean it at the time, but then I thought why not?"

After taking on that challenge, Kitty followed it up with two zip wires, including the mile-long one in North Wales.

"The first one I did, I didn't really feel anything. I thought I've got to do better, it wasn't scary at all.

"I can't stop, and I'm not scared about this one, just excited. I do it for the money and to help the charities.

"My family have mixed feelings – some of them think I am really brave and others think I am bonkers."

All of Kitty's challenges have raised several thousands of pounds for medical charities, and her latest adventure will help raise money for MS Research.

The charity is close to Kitty's heart, as she has previously lost four family members to the condition.

"I don't like to ask for money a lot, I try and limit to a two year gap," she added.

Kitty, who has three children, two grand-children and three step-great-grandchildren, has been a dedicated charity worker since she was 10, and it was during wartime when she organised a jumble sale which raised enough to buy 16 parcels for Red Cross to send to prisoners of war in Germany.

In 1947, she actually sold poppies to German prisoners of war in Eden Camp near Malton.

Jamie Horn, a pilot at East Durham Microlights who will be flying Kitty, said: "I've flown my dad around the Alps when he was in his 70s but never someone who is 87.

"Kitty is very witty – I was a bit worried at first, but she has been really keen."