A FORMER Melrose rugby player has helped raise around £30,000 for charity through his 5in5 marathon challenge.

Stuart Thom grew up in the Borders but now lives in Northern Ireland with his wife and three children.

And last week he completed his five runs in and around Belfast in aid of the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation.

During the challenge he was joined by former Scotland rugby captain Budge Pountney and relative, Tony Quin.

Stuart said: “We managed to complete the five marathons although it was tough going but that’s the job done. There were three of us running in Northern Ireland, myself, Budge Pountney and Tony Quinn.

“None of us had ran marathons before and there was no sense of elation when we finished because we knew we had another four to do.

"We all have sore legs and blisters, but it was worthwhile; although I think Budge has now deleted my number from his phone. But he is a man of integrity and having agreed to take part I knew that he would."

Elsewhere, as part of the challenge, trail runner Mark Coulter completed the five marathons in and around Edinburgh on the same dates.

Ex-GB athlete Nicki Farrell did four runs in Berkshire; while farm director Liz O’Connor completed her challenge in and around Bolton, Lancashire.

The challenge concluded with a dinner and raffle hosted by BBC presenter and Strictly Come Dancing winner Chris Hollins.

He was joined by rugby legends, Tommy Seymour, Paddy Johns and Louis Ludik.

Stuart added: “Mark did his marathons in Edinburgh whilst Nicki did hers in Bedford and Liz in Bolton. Every penny helps fund research into MND, and I would urge everyone to give what they can to this worthwhile cause.”