A TEAM of Oxford Health staff are dusting off their hiking boots to take on a challenge longer than the London Marathon to raise money for charity.

Nurses, play specialists and healthcare assistants are preparing themselves for a 27-mile trek across the county on Saturday to raise vital funds for respite nursing for Oxfordshire's Sick Youngsters (ROSY) Fund.

The fund, which comes under the umbrella of the Oxford Health Charity, works in partnership with children and their families to deliver respite care to sick children in their homes.

These respite sessions are over and above what is possible for the NHS to provide, for example if parents or carers need a break to attend a special occasion.

The team from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust know more than anyone the importance of respite care for parents and carers of sick children, as some of their roles are funded by ROSY.

Alex Davis, head of service for the Children's Community Nursing Team at the trust, said: "It can be difficult for parents and carers to leave their children who have additional needs in the care of others.

"Having trained professionals who are skilled to care for their child’s needs means parents and carers are able to have a break with reduced anxiety and stress.

"ROSY provides just this, but without people making charitable donations, these extra respite sessions would not be able to happen which is why fundraising events like this are so important."

This is the 80th year the fundraising event has taken place, with the route taking participants through Cornbury Park, Blenheim and Ditchley Park before finishing in Wychwood Forest.

Mrs Davis added: "I think because there will also be families at the walk who need respite care it is really important for them to see us and talk to us about the work we do.

"We need to be a voice to talk to them about the work we do and the care we can provide.

"It is a really great place to meet and strengthen relationships."

Kerry Rogers, the trust’s director of corporate affairs and company secretary, said she was delighted to be taking part in the fundraising event.

She added: "The ROSY Fund provides such valuable support and works so closely with our staff here."

George Hedges, chairman and secretary for ROSY said the team from the trust were 'angels.'

He said: "It warms my heart to see them go this extra step further and want to raise money for us.

"Not only do they do an amazing job with the families but now they are going on this pretty tough challenge.

"They are angels, they really are.

"It will be such a fantastic day and we can't thank everyone enough who will be taking part and who have sponsored their friends and families."

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