A grandmother is on course to become the UKs oldest female scuba-diver instructors after taking the plunge — at the age of 75.
Pat Fung only started diving eight years ago, but has set her sights on becoming an instructor to help newbies into the sport.
The underwater granny has racked up more than 400 underwater adventures and now plans to take to the icy depths of Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands next year.
Pat, a retired university researcher from Bristol, said: “I love the feeling of weightlessness and to be able to explore something you would not normally experience.
“I love the marine life you are privileged to glimpse, especially in warm waters, but wreck diving around the UK is wonderful too and so exciting.”
The grandmother-of-three first dipped her toes into diving on holiday in the Maldives, aged 68, with her husband Iggy.
She said: “Iggy is ethnic Chinese and hails from Borneo. When he retired in 2005 we had a treat and went to the Maldives. Iggy encouraged me to have a go at diving and I was hooked almost straight away.
“I loved it and since then I have managed around 400 warm-water dives when we have been abroad. We have visited the Maldives a few times since, as well as Caribbean islands.
“I decided I wanted to do diving in between holidays and read lovely things about UK diving.”
Pat was apprehensive about the reception she would get from diving clubs because she was in her 70s.
But all her fears were unfounded and she was welcomed into the Bristol branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club where she is now an active member.
She added: “I have gone on to experience some wonderful dives.
“I enjoy helping out with try-dives and showing new people the ropes in a pool setting. It means I can pay a little back to the club for all the enjoyment and pleasure I have had.”
In March she completed the first stage to becoming an instructor – a foundation assistant course – and will now need to do an open water course and two exams before she becomes a fully fledged teacher.
Pat has a busy schedule of dives for the coming year but her big target is diving in Scapa Flow in 2014.
She said: “Bristol Diving Club has a trip to Scapa Flow next year. That is the one I want to do. I will be nearly 77 by then and I am hoping I will be fit and well enough to go.”
The British Sub-Aqua Club – the national governing body for the sport – said Pat was inspirational.
Chief executive Mary Tetley added: “She shows it is never too late to take up and enjoy scuba diving.”
The British Sub-Aqua Club confirmed that Pat was the oldest woman in the country to reach this stage of the instructor course.
Development manager Jim Watson said: “Pat is certainly the oldest woman that has started on that road.
“We have found two gentlemen that have done their instructor foundation course – the same stage at Pat – but have not progressed any further.
“They were both 79 years-old when they did the course.
“All three if they wish could progress to the next stages to become a full instructor and whoever gets there first will become the oldest instructor.”