MARATHON runners Lauren Matherick and Natalie Pusey raised almost four times more sponsorship than they expected to thank a health staff who cared for a friend's mother.

They donated £1,890 from their run in Newport to the Somerset Neurological Rehabilitation Centre (SNRC), at Dene Barton Community Hospital.

They were inspired to take part in the race by the treatment given to Rose Mitchell's mum, Rachel, who spent five months there following two brain aneurysms.

Rose said her mother was unable to eat by herself, walk and could barely speak when she was first admitted, but made "noticeable improvements" each time she visited.

She added this week: "Mum is now fantastic and her confidence is growing daily. Even now every time I see her, I’m overwhelmed by the progress she’s made.

"We really can’t thank the SNRC enough. They made an immense difference to mum’s recovery and without them she definitely wouldn’t be where she is now.

"Words will never describe how grateful we all are."

Lauren said: "We decided to run a marathon to raise money for the centre which was offering such fundamental care to Rachel during her recovery.

"We had aimed to raise £500 originally, but, as we kept training the donations kept increasing.

"The marathon was a real challenge for Natalie and me, but I’m really proud of us for completing it. The support we had kept us going during training sessions and I'm hopeful that the money we raised will make a real difference to the centre."

Natalie said: "We decided to take on this challenge as we wanted to show support for Rachel, Rose and their family. We also wanted to have a positive impact on those going through similar difficult times.

"We are absolutely overwhelmed by the support we received and how much we managed to raise."

SNRC sister Frances McLanaghan invited the two runners to the centre to thank them over afternoon tea.

She said: "It was great to welcome them and Rose along to see the garden, which we plan to do up with the donation."