IT was smiles all around at Oxford Children’s Hospital this week as staff, fundraisers and patients celebrated the OX5 Run hitting the £1million mark.

Since the starting gun first sounded in 2003, the Oxford Mail’s 5k fun run has seen thousands of dedicated fundraisers take on the course at Blenheim Palace in aid of the Oxford Hospitals Charity.

And over the last 16 years, the annual run, which has grown significantly in size, has not only helped to raise the funds to get the children’s hospital open, but has also funded a host of vital equipment to improve the treatment, care and support provided to young patients and their families.

This year’s record-breaking run saw more than 1,000 fundraisers complete the course raising a whopping £145,000 raised, with the money being used to fund new state-of-the-art bedside monitors for every bed in the Oxford Children’s Hospital, including the Paediatric Intensive Care Ward.

The Allen Associates-sponsored run, is a partnership between the Oxford Mail and the Oxford Hospitals Charity and was created as part of the original fundraising campaign to build the Oxford Children’s Hospital at the John Radcliffe which opened in 2007.

Speaking about hitting that ‘magic’ £1million mark, chief executive of Oxford Hospitals Charity Douglas Graham, paid tribute to the Oxford community that has made the run such a success.

He said: “When I joined the charity one of the first things the team told me about was the OX5 Run.

“They were so proud of it that they had me grabbing my trainers and signing up within days – despite not having run in over 20 years.

“After a couple of months of training the big day came and as I dragged myself round the hills of Blenheim I was kept going by the massive community support for this very special local cause.

“Fundraising works best when it is a real partnership – and the relationship we have with the Oxford Mail really exemplifies this.

“That they have shown their support for the Oxford Children’s Hospital for over 16 years now is amazing, but to have raised £1 million in the process through this iconic Oxfordshire event is truly inspiring.

“Everyone at the Children’s Hospital and the charity are incredibly grateful to everyone at the Oxford Mail and all the runners who have taken part to help reach the milestone of a magic million.”

Oxford Mail promotions and marketing manager Jo Coady, heavily involved since the start, added: “To have raised over £1million is such an incredible achievement and shows how generous our readers and fundraisers are.

“The event is truly a community event and the money raised makes such a difference to the Children’s Hospital.

“The event has grown every year and we hope this continues – here’s to £2million.”

The Styles family from Upper Heyford took part in the run for the first time this year and were at the hospital this week to help mark the £1million milestone, having themselves raised £1,000.

Four-year-old twin brothers Harrison and Sonny Styles were born with Cystic Fibrosis and have had to endure a number of stays at the children’s hospital.

Mother Jenna, said: “Being able to help make the children’s lives easier during what will probably be one of the toughest times in their lives is a really great thing. The money already raised through the run has really helped us and the boys, during our stays and we wanted to be able to help others.”