A church minister and his wife from Marlow have raised hundreds of pounds for refugees after taking part in the New York marathon on their first wedding anniversary.

Reverend David Downing, minister of Christ Church United Reformed Church, in Oxford Road, and his wife Jo, took on the 26.2-mile run last Saturday (November 5) to help raise money for the Marlow Refugee Action Group (MRAG).

The charity sends items from Marlow to refugees around the world and Rev Downing said he was inspired to raise money for it after a visit to Calais in August, where he saw how MRAG works to help refugees.

He said: “It really sort of moved us – especially coming up to winter, making sure there’s warm clothing, shelter, etc.

“To think that this is not just going on in Calais, you think that this is a massive thing that needs all the support it can get.

“Marlow has shown such generosity in the way that it has responded to the appeals put out by the Marlow Refugee Action Group (MRAG), and we are well are that that it costs money to ship items to where the refugees are.

“It may seem very boring, but we are trying to raise money to help with the shipping of these items.

“The church has been very keen to support the work of MRAG and has supported them in several ways – this is just my way of responding.

“Especially at this time of year, it is so important to think about how we can offer a bit of warmth to fellow human beings.”

Rev Downing had to halt his training after he became hospitalised with a bladder infection four weeks before the marathon, but said he was inspired not to give up after he saw the donations flood in.

He added: “It was a real driving force to know that we were raising so much money for good work.”

The couple have been taking part in marathons for years, with Mrs Downing having completed the New York marathon ten years ago, and Rev Downing having taken part in the Paris and London marathons.

He said while he was planning to hang up his marathon shoes, Mrs Downing was planning to take on Paris next April.

The couple has raised £540 online so far, and are hoping to hit the £1,000 mark.

To donate, visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/daviddowning1.