AS part of a series of features for Local Newspaper Week, the Oxford Mail has been reflecting on what the paper achieves for its readers. Today we look at how the newspaper helps fundraising for good causes in the community.

The Oxford Mail was involved right from the start when plans were announced to build a new children’s hospital at the John Radcliffe site in Headington as part of a major overhaul of children’s services.

The paper launched the Oxford Children’s Hospital Campaign in September 2002, as part of a £15m fundraising drive towards the £30m cost of the children’s hospital.

According to the plans, the 106-bed children’s block would be at the heart of the new state-of-the-art West Wing, housing a range of services for adults.

The Oxford Mail kept its readers informed as the new West Wing and children’s hospital began to take shape and was there to meet its first young patients when the hospital opened early in 2007.

By the time the Queen arrived to officially open the hospital in 2008, thousands of young patients had been treated.

Staff now care for more than 65,000 patients from around the region, with wards designed to accommodate parents so that they can stay overnight when their children are being treated.

Banbury Cake:

  • Oxford’s annual Santa Run in aid of Helen and Douglas House

After the hospital opened, the Mail has continued to campaign for the children’s hospital, with the OX5 Run the showcase fund-raising event of the year.

The OX5, which supports Oxford Children’s Hospital, has been going from strength to strength since it started at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock in 2002. To date, the five-mile race has raised a total of more than £500,000 for the hospital and has been supported by top celebrities including pop singer Jason Donovan and chef Raymond Blanc.

Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron has also supported the run, and in 2009 he completed the course himself.

The Oxford Mail organises the run each year.

Banbury Cake:

  • David Cameron crosses the finish line when he took part in the OX5 in 2009

Children’s hospital spokesman Sarah Vaccari said the partner-ship between the news-paper and the hospitals’ trust charitable funds department ensured it was a success.

She said: “The OX5 Run has grown considerably over the years, both in terms of the number of people taking part and the amount of money it raises.

“The race used to raise about £60,000 but after this year’s race we are hoping to raise more than £100,000 for the first time.

“The money raised pays for state-of-the-art open incubators for paediatric intensive care, an ultrasound machine for minimally invasive surgery, hi-tech equipment to research immunisation for childhood meningitis, the latest medical equipment, and toys to distract young patients when they are being treated.”

Another major fundraiser is Oxford’s Town and Gown run, which has been taking place for 33 years, and has raised an estimated £150,000 in the fight against muscular dystrophy.

Then there is Cancer Research UK’s 5k Race for Life event, staged in the University Parks in Oxford, taking place this year on Sunday, July 13.

The Oxford Half Marathon is also a fundraiser for good causes including Oxfam and Helen & Douglas House Hospice, and will take place this year on October 12.

And at the end of the year, supporters of Helen & Douglas House turn the streets of the city centre red by donning Santa outfits for an annual fun run.

Parent company backs good causes

ONE of the most direct ways the Oxford Mail helps community groups is by publicising and funding their good causes.

The Gannett Foundation, the charitable arm of the Mail’s American parent company, Gannett, gives out grants to community groups in Oxfordshire and beyond.

The foundation invites good causes in the county to apply for a share of about £20,000 every year.

Over the past 10 years, the Gannett Foundation has given grants totalling more than £185,000 in Oxfordshire and about £4m across the UK.

Last year charities Oxtalk, Children in Touch, and Helen & Douglas House Hospice, which supports children and young people in Magdalen Road, East Oxford, shared £22,000 from the awards.

Banbury Cake:

  • The Duchess of Cornwall talks to Delphin Webb and her son Jacob, two, on her visit to Helen & Douglas House last week

Helen & Douglas House has been using its Gannett Foundation grant to update equipment, most of which is used by patients every day.

Community activities fundraiser Annaliese Taylor said: “We have got a fantastic relationship with the Oxford Mail, which highlights our events and the work we do.

“It’s great to have the paper’s support.

“Last year’s Santa Run raised £70,000 and our new Rainbow Run will take place in the University Parks on Sunday, June 8, with 600 people taking part in a 3k run.”

Oxtalk provides a weekly ‘talking’ newspaper for the elderly who find it difficult to read small print. It received a £3,000 grant from the foundation.

Oxtalk was set up in 1979 and operates from Radio Cherwell at the Churchill Hospital in Headington.

The grant helped the organisation to buy devices for listeners to play recordings on memory sticks.

In 1979, Ralph Brain, retired news editor of the Oxford Mail, became the first editor of Oxtalk.

Almost 35 years later, Oxtalk produces the news in digital mp3 format, and sends out between 150 and 200 USB flash drives per week to its listeners in Oxford and surrounding areas.

Anne Ambler, vice-chairman of Oxtalk, said: “It was great to be able to buy the new equipment and it will make a big difference to our members.

“We are very grateful for the Mail’s support through the Gannett Foundation.

“I think the newspaper does an excellent job and highlights an awful lot of good causes, even if it can’t support them all financially.”

Children in Touch was awarded £9,000 in the latest round of grants. Founded in 1978, it is based at Worminghall, near Thame, and supports the study, development and well-being of children and adults with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC).

The charity has been using its Gannett Foundation grant to complete a garden at St Nicholas School in Marston, Oxford.

The Oxfordshire Community Foundation was launched in 1995 and is based in Woodin’s Way, Oxford.

The organisation has helped all types of non-profit organisations to get almost £4m in funding, from bodies including the Government and Comic Relief.

Registered charities with an income of up to £400,000 per year can now apply for between £10,000 and £75,000 to develop their strategies.

Chief executive Jayne Woodley said: “One of our biggest challenges is that not everyone knows about us, so any coverage we get in the media is welcome and the Oxford Mail has always been very supportive.

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