STAFF at Minchinhampton Dental Practice raised £1,500 for Cancer Research UK after their much-loved receptionist of 31 years was diagnosed with the illness.

The women decided to take part in the Race for Life challenge at Cheltenham Racecourse after Tina Reef was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of last year.

And despite battling with the side-effects of chemotherapy, Tina, 47, was cheering on her workmates from the sidelines with husband Mark, 49, during the run last month.

"I got quite tearful," said Tina, a mother-of-one from Upper Tynings,

Randwick who has worked at the surgery since leaving school at 16.

"The support from people there was unbelievable, they were outstanding.

"But I really want to thank everyone who sponsored them - it would never have happened without them."

It was in December that tests revealed Tina had breast cancer.

"I was devastated," she said.

"I have never been ill and it was just before Christmas."

Despite the grim news, Tina's spirits were lifted by the hundreds of cards she received from patients - many of whom have known her since she began work there.

Tina's colleagues have been impressed by her courage during the illness.

"It was a great shock to everyone to learn Tina had cancer," said Janet McConville, 60, who also works as a receptionist at the surgery in Tetbury Street, Minchinhampton.

"But she's very positive and she looks so well that you wouldn't know it. She's definitely going to beat it," she said.

It was hygienist Sarah Anderson and dental nurse Jackie Gazzard who came up with the idea of doing the 5km race - which is for women who want to raise cash for the fight against cancer.

Receptionist Keri Courtney, dental nurses Jo Johnson and Bev Tomnitz and dentist Abby Michael also took part.

Even Sarah's eight-year-old daughter Alice joined in along with Tina's daughter Samantha, 20.

And their boss John Anderson, who owns the practice, topped up the sponsorship money.

Tina has two more chemotherapy sessions to go before she starts radiotherapy next month, but with so much support she is optimistic about the future.

"Once I get this year out the way I can go back to work and make a fresh start," she said.