DONATIONS in memory of a runner who died during the London Mara-thon last night looked set to dramatically swell an Oxfordshire charity’s funds.

Claire Squires, 30, who collapsed at Sunday’s event, was raising cash for the Banbury and District Samaritans.

She had raised £400 when she set off on the race.

But last night this had surged to more than £451,000 as more than 40,000 people pledged cash in memory of the Leicestershire hairdresser.

Ms Squires’ mother, Priscilla, has volunteered for Samaritans’ branches, including Banbury, for 24 years.

Latest figures for 2010 show the branch got an income of £29,603, with £26,526 and £33,461 in 2009 and 2008 respectively.

Samaritans chief executive Catherine Johnstone said: “We desperately wish that it was not under these circumstances but we have been overwhelmed by the response from people donating in Claire’s memory.

“These donations will be put into a tribute fund and, following discussions with the family, will go towards projects they feel would have been important to Claire.”

A family statement yesterday said: “Words cannot explain what an incredible, inspirational, beautiful and driven person she was. She was loved by so many and is dearly missed by all of us.”

Ms Squires last year climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for the RAF Association, raising £1,500.

Before the marathon, a post on the branch’s website said: “It is Claire’s 2nd run in the marathon and last year climbed Kilimanjaro!!!! What a girl!”

On her Just Giving page – where donations have flooded in – she wrote on April 10: “Hi guys as you all know I am running the London Marathon it was just going to be for fun.

“But it’s a fab opportunity to raise money for my charity the Samaritans.

“If everyone I know could donate £5 that would be a great help and change lives.”

It has been reported she had also been motivated to support the charity by the death of brother Grant in 2001.

She collapsed in Birdcage Walk, near St James’s Park, on the final stretch of the 26.2-mile course, with the finishing line only one bend away.

Tests to establish why she collapsed take place this week.

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