A DINOSAUR has been given a new home at Oxford Children's Hospital to help bring smiles to the faces of some of county's most poorly children.

The Utahraptor used to live at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History until the museum decided it was time to move on.

Out of 200 applications, a member of staff at the hospital was the most persuasive and the dinosaur was unveiled to patients in the entrance earlier this week.

Sarah Fletcher, who works at the Churchill Hospital but has previously worked alongside anaesthetists at the children's hospital, wrote the winning application.

The team leader in renal and transplant said: "I saw in the Oxford Mail that the dinosaur needed a new home and I thought it would make such a difference to the children and their siblings and relatives at the hospital.

"It was great to see the dinosaur unveiled, especially when they brought some of the children down from the wards.

"They were really excited and it was nice to see it had brought a smile to their faces."

The 31-year-old from Littlemore used her degree in zoology and masters in animal behaviour and welfare to convince the museum to choose the children's hospital as it's new home.

She said: "I had a bit of fun with it and wrote it as if the dinosaur was real.

"I said there would be a park across the road for her and if the children get to know her it might displace some of the fear they might have visiting the hospital.

"In a hospital setting there would always be someone to check in on her and she would always have company."

The Utahraptor will be named by children on the wards as part of a competition and an arts project could give the patients even more chance to get to know their new pet.

The four-metre-long model is about three quarters the size of the real thing, which lived in the Cretaceous period - 128 million years ago.

It has been described as resembling an 'ostrich-bulldog' and is bigger than the Velociraptor, made famous by the Jurassic Park films.

Project manager at Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Hannah Allum, said: "It was just over a year ago that we offered our Utahraptor model to new owners.

"As the dinosaur was no longer on display in the museum, we wanted to find a new home where it could still be seen and appreciated.

She added: "I hope that once unveiled the Utahraptor will delight patients and visitors, or perhaps distract people from their reasons for being there"

Arts co-ordinator at the charity, Ruth Charity, said: "I'm sure it will bring much pleasure to young patients who may be very surprised to find a dinosaur looking down at them at the hospital entrance.

"Hopefully this will be a welcome distraction and make their visit here more fun."