A PLUCKY pensioner celebrated her 87th birthday with shop staff from Aulds and Sainsbury's who helped her to recover from a fractured spine.

Heather McVean from Kempock Street in Gourock was fit and active and well known for running everywhere when she worked as a home help.

But three years ago her life was turned upside down when she fractured her spine and was left unable to walk.

Heather started to feel low as she was suddenly stuck in her house.

As she slowly got back on her feet, she started visiting the Sainsbury's shop in the town for her messages and going to Aulds for a coffee and a cake every day.

She soon made firm friends with the staff at both shops - and insists that the care and compassion they have shown has given her a whole new zest for life.

This week, Heather was stunned when the staff teamed up to throw a surprise afternoon tea party in Aulds to mark her 87th birthday.

Heather said: "I'm totally gobsmacked.

"I didn't expect this.

"It's wonderful.

"My heart is racing."

Heather says the staff at Sainsbury's and Aulds in Kempock Street have been an incredible support to her.

She said: "I was a walker and then suddenly I couldn't walk when I fractured my spine.

"I was always in the house so I felt depressed.

"Once I got back on my feet, I started going to Sainsbury's and Aulds every day.

"The friendship I have received from them has been super.

"When I go into Sainsbury's they jokingly call me the 'shoplifter' as I have this bag I use instead of a basket or trolley.

"I also enjoy going into Aulds for a coffee and cake.

"I'm not just saying this but they have helped my recovery.

"They always speak to me and make me laugh - they've really brought me out of myself.

"They are great."

Colin Silvester, the store manager at Sainsbury's in Gourock, says Heather brightens up his team's day.

He said: "We always look forward to Heather coming in.

"She comes in every single day and when we spot her we drop everything and chat to her and make sure she's well.

"The stories that she tells us about Gourock are very uplifting.

"We spent three weeks arranging this surprise for her.

"It's to make her realise how special she is to all of us."

Heather has also had a big impact on Lisa Patton and Deborah Gault, who work in Aulds.

Lisa said: "She is a lovely woman.

"We like carrying on with her - she's really good fun."

Heather, who has two grown up sons, Cameron and Brian, and one grandchild, blew out the candles on her favourite Aulds cake - a cream cookie.

She also received a mug from the staff at Aulds saying 'Queen B' while the staff at Sainsbury's got her a Harry Potter mug.

Heather told the Tele: "I can't tell you what this all means to me."