Claire's fund passes £200k
A paralysed mum whose marathon challenge captured the hearts of the nation has raised more than £200,000 for spinal research.
The wave of public support for Claire Lomas as she completed the 26.2-mile London Marathon course in a robotic suit has seen her smash her original fund-raising target of £50,000.
The 32-year-old, who was paralysed from the chest down in a horse-riding accident five years ago, completed the challenge in 17 days.
She is now in training for her next fund-raising effort, which will see her cycle 250 miles from Paris to London using a specially-adapted bike fitted with similar technology to the robotic suit.
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Claire, of Eye Kettleby, near Melton, said: "It's been truly amazing.
"Everyone has been so kind and I've been really touched by all the support.
"I didn't expect all the attention at all and, to be honest, it's been totally overwhelming."
By yesterday afternoon, £174,335 had been donated through Claire's page on the justgiving website, with Gift Aid contributions adding £28,500 to the total.
"I didn't think my walk would capture people's imagination in the way it has," she said.
"It's way beyond the wildest dreams I had when starting out and, importantly, it has helped raise awareness about spinal injury and the Spinal Research charity."
Rachel Brady, Spinal Research's fund-raising director, said it was the emotional connection Claire made with thousands of ordinary people that had made the difference.
"What Claire has done is amazing," she said. "She's a superstar.
"The money she's raised is far beyond what we could've ever hoped.
"No matter how difficult it was, she always had a smile on her face and would take the time to stop and chat.
"Her determination and generous personality have inspired people and she's become a great ambassador for our charity."
In between magazine interviews, public engagements and taking care of 16-month-old daughter Maisie, Claire has found the time to fit in some training for her bike ride.
She said: "My bike's arriving next week and I hope to do the ride some time next spring.
"It will require a different level of fitness but I'm looking forward to it.
"I don't expect it to be as big as the marathon but I want to carry on helping Spinal Research."
Claire's justgiving page will remain open for a few more weeks.