RUNNING the country was put on hold yesterday as David Cameron urged Oxfordshire to support the Oxford Mail’s OX5 Run.
The five-mile run in the grounds of Blenheim Palace is the Oxford Children Hospital’s biggest annual fundraising event.
At his offices in Witney’s High Street, he greeted cancer patients and close friends Zac Durkin, five, and Finlay White, nine, in a bid to get more people to join the run on Sunday, March 30.
The Prime Minister said he appreciates first-hand the work of the Oxford Children’s Hospital in Headington.
His six-year-old son Ivan, who suffered from a rare disease called Ohtahara syndrome, was treated at the hospital before he died in 2009.
Mr Cameron said: “l know from my own family’s experience how important the work of the Oxford Children’s Hospital is in helping children like Finlay and Zac and their families through some very tough times.
“It is great to hear that despite their illness the boys have become good friends and that they and their families are supporting each other through this challenging period.
“I hope the community will be inspired by the strength of the boys and join their family and friends in entering the Oxford Mail OX5 Run supporting the Children’s Hospital.”
Mr Cameron took part in the OX5 Run himself in 2009, but he joked his knees could not cope with it this year.
Finlay, from Deer Park, Witney, is having chemotherapy for the bone cancer osteosarcoma and recovering from an operation to remove the cancer from his leg in December.
He said of meeting the Prime Minister: “It was exciting. He asked me when I get my plaster off. I’ve seen him on TV before and I’ve seen him turn on the Christmas lights in Witney.”
Zac, from Colwell Drive, was diagnosed with leukaemia in June last year. After meeting the PM, he said: “He’s very tall.”
Five-year-old Zac’s hair is growing back after finishing a round of chemotherapy in hospital last month.
His mother, Tabitha Durkin, 36, said: “He’s got so much more energy and he’s back at school now as well. He’s doing really well.”
Finlay’s mum Suzanne White, 40, said: “With everything David Cameron has going on, it is nice he has given some time to promote the run.”
Mrs Durkin and Mrs White have so far raised £1,400 for taking on the OX5 Run.
Children’s hospital spokesman Graham Brogden said: “We are always inspired by the youngsters we meet who are so brave during a very challenging time in their lives and by the strength and support of their family and friends.
“This year the fun run is on Mother’s Day so it is even more fitting that the boys and their mums are encouraging others in the community to sign up and support your Children’s Hospital.”
Last year’s run raised a record-breaking £98,000 for new machines and equipment for the hospital.
The run is organised by the Oxford Mail and sponsored by Oxford-based recruitment company Allen Associates.
- To take part, go to oxfordmail.co.uk/ox5run
- The PM also yesterday visited Oxford Cryosystems, a scientific equipment manufacturer in Long Hanborough.
£500,000-PLUS ALREADY RAISED
THE Oxford Mail OX5 Run has raised more than £500,000 for the children’s hospital and supports children’s care across Oxford University Hospitals Trust, including the Children’s Ward and Children’s A&E at the Horton General Hospital, Children’s Intensive Care and Newborn Units and other children’s out-patient departments across the trust. People can run individually or as part of a team. It costs £10 to enter and all runners are asked to aim to raise £100 or more. Sign up online today at oxfordmail.co.uk/ox5run