A GROUP of friends joined together to walk from Stroud to Cardiff in aid of a cause close to their heart.

Sam and Christina Mincher, whose mum Kate suffers from ME, were joined by friends Nicole Mardon, Matt Austin and Miles Lewis-Iversen to take on the sponsored hike to raise money and awareness for the charity Invest in ME.

The group of five, four of whom were friends at Thomas Keble School, set off at 6am on Saturday morning from Stroud railway station, walking almost non-stop until 11pm when they arrived at their B&B in Caerwent.

After resting sore feet, they set off for the final stretch walking to Newport and then to Cardiff on Sunday, where Christina, 20, and Nicole, 19, both study physiotherapy.

"It was much harder than we expected," said Sam, 22, a performance analyst with Swansea City FC Academy and former pupil at Thomas Keble School.

"But all of the generous donations made our blisters, knee pains and back aches worth it."

Kate Mincher, from Bussage, who has suffered from ME for 19 years, said she was proud of her children and their friends.

"I am not able to do all of the things I would like to do with them," she said.

"They genuinely want to support and understand what it is like for me.

"I am really touched by it and incredibly proud of them.

"I would like the thank them on behalf of all people suffering from ME."

The group have raised more than £800 from the challenge, which coincides with Invest in ME's annual conference taking place in London on June 3.

Invest in ME funds biomedical research into ME and promotes better understanding about the condition.

To find out more about the charity visit investinme.org.

To donate to the group's fundraising page visit bit.ly/1sGVetx.