AVID swimmer Vivien Cashmore marked her 80th birthday with a pool party with a difference - a dip in Netherton Reservoir.

Vivien is a regular at the open water swimming venue near Merry Hill, and was treated to a surprise birthday celebration by fellow swimmers after her Saturday morning circuit of the lake.

The group, which is organised by Mark and Heather Stokes and meets every week of the year come rain or shine, sang a socially distanced happy birthday and shared cake with the octogenarian.

Of the party on Saturday (June 19), Vivien, who has two daughters, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild, said: “It was a lovely surprise to receive so many birthday wishes from everyone at Netherton and it certainly made Saturday’s swim all the more special.

"They’d done a great job keeping it a secret from me, even removing me from the Facebook group so I couldn’t see what they were planning.

“It’s such a good atmosphere at the Reservoir, everyone is so friendly and supportive of swimmers of all levels and I hope to be swimming with them well into my 80s and beyond.”

Vivien, who lives in Welland Road, Halesowen and is widowed, worked as an auxiliary nurse in an eye hospital for 30 years and as a community nurse in Dudley for 25 years.

Her actual birthday is tomorrow (Wednesday June 23).

Heather Stokes said she couldn’t let Vivien’s birthday pass without making a splash.

She said: “Vivien is an absolute stalwart of the group, swimming with us all year round no matter what the temperature.

"She literally hasn’t missed a session in the five years she’s been coming here so we wanted to honour her amazing commitment on her birthday."

She added: “Vivien really is a shining example of the benefits of open water swimming, which has proved a lifeline for so many during the past 15 months both physically and mentally. Apart from lockdowns, the group has swum throughout the year and we have seen an explosion in interest in this sport.”

Netherton Reservoir Open Water Swimming is a National Open Water Coaching Association venue.

Details of how to book a session, currently Saturday mornings and Monday evenings, can be found at nethertonowswimming.weebly.com.