WITH just one week to go, celebrity chef Raymond Blanc is confirmed as the official starter of the OX5 run at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock.

The double Michelin-starred chef will be joined by Oxfordshire Olympic middle distance runner Hannah England and brain surgeon Jay Jayamohan to fire the starting gun for the five-miler on Sunday, March 10, in aid of the Oxford Children’s Hospital.

So far nearly 900 people have signed up.

Mr Blanc, who runs Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Great Milton, has visited the children’s hospital at the John Radcliffe site in Headington on several occasions and taught some of its patients how to make cookies.

He said: “They were some of the most inspirational and courageous children I’ve ever met.

“I am thrilled to be able to support the Oxford Children’s Hospital at the OX5 Run again this year.

“It’s a wonderful event full of people who care passionately about the children’s hospital.

“I hear that the numbers are looking really good, but there is still time for more people to sign up and support this wonderful local cause.

“I am really looking forward to seeing them all on the day at beautiful Blenheim Pal-ace.”

It will be the third time the chef has started the race.

Children’s hospital spokeswoman Sarah Vaccari said: “It’s fantastic to have Raymond back once again to start the event and we are delighted he will be joined by Hannah Englandas well as Jay Jayamohan.

“We are utterly thrilled that nearly 900 people have already entered the OX5 run.

“With any luck we will smash our 1,000 target and hopefully raise a record amount for the children’s hospital. The support from the local community has been tremendous and we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone.”

The country as well as the county got behind the cause last week with an Oxford hashtag #OxHour trending nationally on Twitter.

The weekly Oxfordshire social networking event from 8pm until 9pm on Wednesdays chose an @OxHospCharity tweet about the OX5 run as “tweep of the week”.

Twitter users then promoted the event by hashtagging and re-tweeting.

Mrs Vaccari added: “It was fantastic to see the Oxfordshire Twitter community trending across the UK.

“We were really thrilled to be chosen as the first ‘tweep of the week’ which meant that our message about the OX5 Run was spread even further.”

There is still time to enter the event until online registration closes at midnight on March 7.

There will be a limited number of on-the-day places available as well.

To enter, complete the panel on the left, call 01865 743444 or go to oxfordmail.co.uk/news/ox5run