Donations to the charity of an "inspirational" runner who collapsed and died during the London Marathon continued to soar today to well over £200,000.

Cash has been flooding in following the death of Claire Squires during Sunday's event at a rate of hundreds of pounds a minute.

The 30-year-old hairdresser collapsed in Birdcage Walk near St James's Park on the final stretch of the 26.2-mile course.

Ms Squires was running the marathon for the Samaritans because her mother has volunteered with the charity for more than 20 years.

She was also motivated to support the charity due to the death of her brother, the Daily Mail reported.

Grant Squires was found dead after taking an overdose in 2001, according to the paper.

Donations on her page on the JustGiving website reached the £200,000 mark last night as news of her death spread, increasing the total from just £500 on Sunday.

Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of the Samaritans, said the charity had been "overwhelmed" by the response following Ms Squires' death.

Ms Johnstone said: "Claire chose to run the marathon for Samaritans as her mother Cilla Squires has been a volunteer for the charity for 24 years.

"This is an incredibly sad time for Claire's family and all those who knew her.

"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."

Many other tributes to Ms Squires, from North Kilworth, Leicestershire, have also flooded in.

Close friend Nicola Short described 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 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, the association, which works to support serving and former RAF personnel and their families, said: "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."

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, Leicestershire.

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

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