OX5 RUN: Raymond Blanc starts 900+ runners on this year's charity race

Oxford Mail: Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc starts the Ox5 race Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc starts the Ox5 race

In 2007 Luke Dickety was among the first young patients through the doors of the newly-opened Oxford Children’s Hospital.

He was just 12 and had been receiving treatment for a life-threatening tumour in his head for three years.

Now, after countless examinations, operations, and overnight stays, Luke is finally strong enough to thank the team in the only way he knows how – by running the OX5.

He was among about 900 runners who completed the five-mile course around Blenheim Palace grounds this weekend, to raise money for the hospital.

Luke, 16, from Bicester, said now he has been given the all-clear, he wanted to show staff his appreciation by taking on the physical challenge.

The Cooper School pupil said: “I suppose it is my way of saying thank you really. Thanks for everything they have done for me over the years.”

Mother Carol Mackay added: “It’s the only thing you can say really.

“Raising money for CHOX really makes a difference to the young people who stay at the hospital, and gives them a chance to carry on as normally as they can.”

Starting the race was top chef Raymond Blanc, of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, in Great Milton, who spoke of his pride at being involved with a local charity close to so many people’s hearts.

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Last April, more than 850 runners completed the run and raised £57,000 for the Oxford Children’s Hospital charity.

Organiser’s of this year’s event, sponsored by Allen Associates, hope to have raised even more.

All the money goes towards buying vital equipment for the hospital and paying for added extras, such as toys and computer games, to make the children’s stay as comfortable as possible.

Dale Harris, from Normandy Crescent, Cowley, knows only too well how important that is for children. Mr Harris, 29, who has taken part in every OX5 Run since it started in 2002, was inspired to take part after his daughter Mya was diagnosed with spina bifida.

This year he was joined by his partner, Leah Goodson, 29, sister Stephanie Harris, 28, father Tony Harris, 51, uncle Marvin Harris, 50, and cousin Craig Harris, 29.

Soldier Jonathan Chamberlain, from Bicester, returned from his recently completed tour of Afghanistan to make up the seventh member of ‘Team Mya’.

Between them they hope to have raised £600. Mr Harris said: “It’s a fantastic was to say thank you and to help them raise money to buy more equipment. It makes such a difference.”

First over the finish line with a time of 28 minutes 18 seconds was fireman Gary Crone, who was followed closely by the Oxford Mail’s own sports reporter, Ed Mezzetti, who completed the course in 28 minutes and 48 seconds.

More than 50 teams made up of hospital staff, local businesses and organisations, including the Oxfordshire Fire Service, Oxford Bus Company and the Oxford Vaccine Group, ran in fancy dress.

Among the bravest, and by the end, the hottest, were members of the Oxfordshire Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire SERV, a rider volunteers charity which transports blood and breast milk to hospitals.

They pushed two motorbikes around the partially uphill course.

Friends of history enthusiast Steve Coachman, who died earlier this year, ran in full medieval fancy dress in his honour.

Last year Mr Couchman dressed in a suit of armour for the run.

Oxford Zumba king George Martini, warmed up the crowds with his Latin-inspired form of dance exercise, and Jack FM were on hand to give a running commentary and live interviews.

Sarah Vaccari, of the hospital’s charitable funds team, whose daughter Rosa has undergone heart surgery at the hospital, took part in the run for the second year.

She said: “These events are so important. They raise a huge amount of money for things that go over and above what the NHS can routinely provide.

“Thank you so much to everyone who took part.”

The Oxford Mail launched the OX5 event nine years ago to raise money for the new children’s hospital based at the John Radcliffe.

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