A MARRIED couple who spend their retirement at car boot sales to raise money for charity have been named fundraisers of the year.

Grandparents Jeff and Marielyn Rowson were driven to raise money after feeling indebted to the NHS for the care they both received.

The couple, of Abbeylea Drive, Westhoughton, won the fundraising award in the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust’s annual Health Heroes competition — securing the accolade ahead of two other people.

Their efforts have seen them take part in car boot sales across the North West to raise nearly £10,000 for Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

They even beat off competition from an NHS worker who launched a campaign which raised hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Mrs Rowson, aged 71, a retired catering worker, said: “We were surprised to be nominated and we really didn’t expect to win. We thought we didn’t have a chance with what the other two finalists had done.

“We were absolutely flabbergasted to win when all we do is little car boot sales and tombolas.

“We were already fundraising when I was diagnosed with cancer and it helped me to get through it.

“Doing good for somebody else helped me. If you do good for others then good comes to you.”

Mr and Mrs Rowson got their first taste for fundraising more than 10 years ago when they helped give a children’s charity a boost by taking part in a sponsored walk.

But they got the bug for raising money after Mr Rowson spent five days in Royal Lancaster Infirmary after suffering from asthma and angina while staying at their holiday caravan in Morecambe six years ago.

Mrs Rowson has also received lifesaving treatment at the Royal Bolton Hospital for kidney and thyroid cancer and beat the disease.

Mr Rowson, aged 72, a former lorry driver, said: “We love doing car boot sales to raise money. We get hooked. I had been really fed up not being able to work because of illness and my wife wanted to raise money as well. We can’t stop doing it.”

The couple encourage their friends to have clear- outs so they can sell the items for charity.

They also go to pound shops and buy goods out of their own pockets when they do not have much stock to sell.

They said they will now take their award to the car boot sales to show people what their volunteering has achieved.