A PENSIONER celebrated her 75th birthday by swimming 75 lengths for charity.

Moira Halliday, who describes herself as “not a strong swimmer who can only do breaststroke” had previously managed a best of 30 lengths of the pool at Bannatyne’s Health Club in Chester-le-Street.

But she reached her target, equivalent to 1.5km, in two-and-a-half hours, with only two short ten-minute breaks.

Her marathon effort raised £750 for the Children and Teenage Cancer Unit at the Great North Children’s Hospital.

Moira, from Houghton-le-Spring, said: “I wanted to mark my 75th birthday in some way.

“Many years ago, my best friend June died of cancer at the age of 18 having suffered four years of treatment.

“I was an only child and June was like a big sister to me so her death at such a young age had a terrible effect and the memory has stayed with me ever since.

“Sadly, very few people have not lost family members and friends to cancer or been touched by the disease in some way”.

She added: “June would have been 78 if she’d lived so I decided to swim 75 lengths, one length for each year I’ve been blessed with good health and try and benefit young cancer patients at the same time.”

“Among my other hobbies, I also enjoy baking but I’d have to sell an awful lot of ginger snaps to reach the same amount”.