A South Oxhey couple whose daughter was born 10 weeks prematurely are preparing to run the marathon together for an infant charity almost exactly a year after she was released from hospital.

Sarah Whelan and James Rowe are running for Bliss, a British charity providing care and support for premature and sick babies and their families.

The couple, of Ashburnham Drive, South Oxhey, had no doubt which charity they wanted to run the gruelling 26.2 mile challenge on April 21 for.

When Sophie Rowe, was born at 30 weeks - 10 weeks premature - she weighed just three pounds and was not released from Watford General Hospital until seven weeks after her birth.

Now 14 months old, Sophie is a healthy, happy baby but Sarah, 28, who works as a cabin crew member for Virgin Atlantic, and James, 29, a construction manager, were amazed at the support they were given during the tense first weeks of her life and vowed to repay it.

She said: "She spent seven weeks in Watford General before she came home.

"She came home in April and we saw the marathon on TV soon after and thought wouldn’t it be good to do that.

"We had always wanted to do it but never had a cause.

"Doing it for Bliss was a very obvious choice because of what was going on at the time.

"Bliss are in Watford General and they offer help and advice and also support parents of babies that have illnesses."

The couple are closing in on the £5,000 target having only collected donations from family and friends.

Sarah said: "We have done no fundraising at all, it is all just from friends and our families.

"We have been so overwhelmed by the support we have received, we are up to £4,200 already."

Training has been hampered by the needs of their two young children meaning the couple will run together for the first time during the famous run and hope to complete the race in less than six hours.

Sophie, along with their four-year-old son, Jack, and other relatives will join hundreds of thousands of supporters lining the streets of London to cheer them on.

Sarah said: "We never train together because one of us has always got to be at home with the kids.

"We have never even run together, the first time will be at the start line.

"The kids are both coming down to London to cheer us on."