PEOPLE in Oxfordshire can get ready to take part in an annual fun run that is back this year in aid of the Oxford Children's Hospital.

The Oxford Mail OX5 Run, which is sponsored by local recruitment agency, Allen Associates, has taken place every year since 2002, raising more than £1million since it started to provide extra support for local children in hospital.

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Banbury Cake: Past OX5 Run mascot

Like so many events, last year’s run had to be cancelled just weeks before it was due to take place at Blenheim Palace, although a number of people still ran in their local areas.

The 2021 event, taking place on Sunday, March 28, will be virtual, with runners and walkers asked to complete five miles close to their homes.

Gail Williams, from Oxford Hospitals Charity, said: "It is of course disappointing that for the second year running we can’t be at beautiful Blenheim Palace for the run, but we know we can still make it a really special day that brings people together – albeit online.

"There will be a virtual warm up, messages of support from young patients and hospital staff, your own runner’s number and of course a medal sent to you on completion.

"This event is usually our biggest fundraiser of the year for the Children’s Hospital and with the support of our local community we really hope can still raise as much as possible to make a difference to the thousands of children looked after by our hospital teams."

Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, is a regular OX5 runner and has already pledged his support for the event.

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He said: "We have all been in the same team, in a race together to beat the pandemic and I am looking forward to the virtual race to raise some money for local children in hospital."

Banbury Cake: Julia Spargo OX5 2019

Another OX5 regular is Julia Spargo from Bicester, who has entered the event for the past 10 years. Her daughter, Beth, was born with dislocated hips, breathing problems and a cleft palate, with doctors unsure if she would ever be able to walk.

Ms Spargo runs with a team of friends and family calling themselves ‘Beth’s Bees’ all dressed in stripy yellow, to thank the NHS staff for Beth’s care.

She said: "I started running the OX5 when Beth was a few months old. As she gets older she is more and more able to do things we weren’t sure she ever would and that’s why we still support the hospital charity and enter the run every year. It’s a thank you for all the care she’s had, and continues to receive, from the JR and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre.

"It’s such a fun event and we hope to bring that fun again to a virtual version. I’ve already had people contacting me saying they are keen to be involved. This will be my 10th year taking part, I wouldn’t miss it."

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Allen Associates has sponsored the event since 2009 and are supporting the run once again.

Banbury Cake: Oxford-based recruitment agency Allen Associates has sponsored the event since 2009 and is supporting the run once again. Staff ran the race in 2019.

Kate Allen, managing director, said: "We have been the lead sponsor of the OX5 Run for the last 12 years and are proud to be able to support this incredible event again in 2021.

"This past year has caused us all to reflect on what’s truly important and in many ways the OX5 Run embodies this, bringing people together to raise funds to ensure that seriously ill children and their families receive the best possible care and support.

"While the format for 2021’s run will be different, the ethos remains the same and we are delighted to be involved and to do our bit for our local community again."

To find out more or to enter the run, go to hospitalcharity.co.uk/ox5run.

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