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£200,000 pledged for charity of runner Claire Squires who died in London Marathon


Donations to an "inspirational" runner who collapsed and died during yesterday's London Marathon passed £200,000 this evening as money continued to flood into her fund-raising website.

Claire Squires, a hairdresser from North Kilworth, Leicestershire, collapsed in Birdcage Walk near St James's Park, on the final stretch of the 26.2-mile course.

The 30-year-old, who was running for Samaritans, was given medical attention by paramedics but died at the scene yesterday afternoon, organisers said.

Thousands of people have made donations on her JustGiving website today, raising the total from £500 to more than £200,000 as of late evening on Monday as news of her death continues to spread. There were more than 9,300 separate donations.

Tributes have also flooded in, with messages left for Ms Squires on the JustGiving page and Twitter.

Close friend Nicola Short paid tribute to Claire earlier today, describing her as an "inspiration" who brought laughter and love to everyone's life.

The pair climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for the RAF Association last year, raising £1,500 for the charity.

Paying tribute to her friend on the association's website, Ms Short said: "Claire is an inspiration to us all. She brought laughter and love to everyone's life. She will be sorely missed by all.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this time."

In a statement on its website today, the association, which works to support serving and former RAF personnel and their families, said: "It is with great sadness that the RAF Association has heard of the tragic death of Claire Squires, 30, following the London Marathon on Sunday.

"Claire was a wonderfully vibrant and energetic person, who was a keen charity supporter and loved by all who knew her. Claire's efforts in support of the RAF Association helped to raise hundreds of pounds for our charity and that is something for which we will always be grateful.

"In 2010 she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and also took part in other fundraising events in support of the RAF Family in recent years."

Meanwhile Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of Samaritans, said the organisation was deeply saddened at news of her death.

She said: "We are devastated following the tragic death of one of our marathon runners and are supporting the family through this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone who knew her.

"We appreciate all that our marathon runners do. It is with their support, commitment and fundraising efforts that that we are able to offer our vital service for people with nowhere else to turn."

A statement on the London Marathon website said: "The organisers of the Virgin London Marathon would like to express their sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.

"We would like to emphasise that our immediate concern is for the family of the deceased. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with them at this difficult time."

Tests to establish why Ms Squires collapsed as she neared the finish line are expected to take place in the coming days.

She died with the finishing line only one bend away, after 25 miles of the marathon.

Ms Squires was a hairdresser at Moko hair salon in Church Street, Market Harborough.

Today a stylist at the salon said Ms Squires' family had been in touch and asked them not to comment on her death and to respect their privacy. She added that the family did not wish to say anything at this time.

Ms Squires is the 11th participant to die since the event began in 1981.