THOUSANDS of people, hundreds of hours and many cheers have helped Oxford's Children Hospital Charity hit the halfway point in its 10th anniversary £2m appeal.

Fundraisers are celebrating the milestone after running, baking, dancing and even abseiling their way to £1m, with the cash going towards building a new Ronald McDonald House for sick youngsters.

The appeal was launched in January, a decade on from when the hospital first opened, to fundraise towards a new 62-bedroom building for parents to stay close to their children when in they are in hospital, as well as funding vital equipment and play areas.

Children’s fundraiser Penny Hambridge, from Oxford Children's Hospital Charity, said: "We have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the county.

"We always knew the Oxford Children’s Hospital had a very special place in people’s hearts, but we have been blown away with the tremendous support.

"We are delighted to be at the half way point of the appeal already and hope that people will continue to support this very special local cause."

Among the events contributing to totting up the huge total was this year's Oxford Mail OX5 run in March, which boosted the hospital appeal with a record-breaking £126,000.

Almost 1,000 runners, joggers and walkers took on the five-mile Blenheim Palace course including an impressive 60 bumble bees who created enough buzz to raise £7,000 for the appeal.

Heading up the swarm of 'Beth's Bees' was Julia Spargo, who has been among those tirelessly raising funds to thank the hospital for caring for her daughter Beth Lee, 6, who was born a cleft palate, dislocated hips and breathing problems.

She said: "It is brilliant for the appeal to have reached the million pound mark - they [Oxford Children's Hospital Charity] have done really well.

"It is going to make such a difference.

"We are still up the hospital a lot, it was about 13 different occasions over summer, and we see the difference this money makes.

"I have spoken with the team about the kind of things the money will go towards including the accommodation, which we could’ve done with when Beth was in intensive care.

"It would’ve made a huge difference, so that will be amazing for families - it is invaluable."

Ms Spargo has since completed a number of other fundraisers for the appeal with fellow Bicester mums, Rebecca Clarke, who is giving something back after the hospital cared for her son Remy, and Rachel Payne, for the same reason with her son Ralph.

This has included an abseil down the side of the John Radcliffe Hospital, an inflatable run, as well as a half marathon through a vineyard in Surrey with wine stops every two miles - dressed as flamingos.

Ms Spargo added: "We will always have something to be thankful for with Beth. Just recently she was seen by medics who were astonished at how far she has come - now doing tennis and all sorts.

"You never stop being grateful and I still look at Beth now in amazement.

"There is no expiry date on gratitude."

Other events have included charity golf days, dancing shows with Strictly Oxford and Strictly Banbury, Giffords Circus at Blenheim Palace, a cricket -themed evening with Sir Tim Rice and a black tie dinner at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, hosted by Raymond Blanc.

All funds will go towards supporting the children admitted to hospital, of which 16,000 had to stay overnight last year.

There is a real need for extra accommodation for parents to be able to stay nearby their poorly youngsters as too often many have to be turned away with not enough space for demand in the existing Ronald Macdonald House.

Lady Baldry, chairwoman of the Oxford Children’s Hospital 10th Anniversary Appeal, said: "We are excited to have reached the half way mark and it has been wonderful to see how hard so many people have worked to raise these funds. But there is still more to be done.

"We want people to think how they, their friends, or workplace, school or club, can get involved and help us raise the next £1 million to make the Oxford Children’s Hospital an even better place for our young patients and their families."