A MAJOR sponsor of the OX5 has signed up with its 'biggest ever' team as time runs out to take advantage of an early bird discount for the charity race.

Recruitment firm Allen Associates, which has helped make the Oxford Children's Hospital fundraiser possible for more than a decade, will be back at Blenheim next month.

Currently 19 people from the Oxford-based firm have signed up to take part, more than have ever entered before.

Kate Allen, managing director of Allen Associates, said: “We are thrilled to be getting involved and entering our biggest ever team for the OX5.

“Each year, as the event approaches, we feel a real sense of excitement and each of us are inspired by the families, friends and colleagues who are lacing up their trainers wanting to make a difference young patients in hospital.”

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She added: “The OX5 Run is a major event for us, we talk to everyone who comes into the office about the fun run, but it’s also inspiring when we hear from clients who have directly benefitted from the care of the hospital, you feel a real sense of shared purpose within the community.”

The Oxford Mail OX5 Run will, once again, take runners around a five-mile course at Blenheim Palace on Sunday, March 29.

Fundraisers can walk, jog or run the event, sponsored by Allen Associates for the 11th time, all in aid of supporting Oxford Children’s Hospital.

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Last year’s was one of the best ever for the OX5 with 1,100 runners raising £150,000 for the children’s hospital.

All money raised goes towards improving equipment and care at the Headington hospital, the children’s ward at the Horton General Hospital and the Paediatric Critical Care Unit.

Joe Baker, from Oxford Hospitals Charity, said: “We are delighted that Allen Associates are back and joining us for what is shaping up to be another amazing fun run.

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“Each year we are inspired by their dedication and commitment to helping make a real difference to our young patients, when in hospital.”

He added: “The OX5 Run is really special because so many families with first-hand experience of the children’s hospital take part, alongside hospital staff and people from within the local community – so it’s fantastic that a local company is playing such an important role in the event.”

Families who have personal reasons to sign up for the race have been sharing their stories in the lead up to the big day.

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They have included Phil Rose, from Abingdon, who is lacing up his running shoes for the seventh time to thank Oxford Children's Hospital staff who cared for his young daughter Maizie, now aged nine, when she was treated for a rare form of cancer as a toddler.

Mr Rose said the atmosphere on the OX5 was 'incredible', explaining: "Everyone is there for same reason.

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Phil Rose. Picture: Richard Cave

"Even if someone has only experienced the hospital because their child broke their arm, we all know how important it is."

Read more about Mr Rose's story here

Michelle Partlett, from Upper Heyford, near Bicester, and her husband Gareth will also be taking on the race after the pair’s new son, Alfie, was born at 28 weeks.

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The Partlett family

The family, who will be joined by Mrs Partlett’s brother Lee and sister-in-law Sophia on the run, spent 46 days in the John Radcliffe Hospital – including the entire Christmas period.

She said: "We are taking part in the OX5 Run to give back and say thank you for the wonderful care that we have all received.

"People tell you that the hospital staff will become your best friends and I thought that was silly at first but it was so true.”

Read more about the Partlett family's story here

This year's race is already on course for a big turnout with more than 500 people so far pledged to take part.

Early bird entry for the race ends on Friday, February 28 so for those thinking about taking part there is not long left to take advantage of a £20 entry fee.

Sign up here