As a team, we’ve worn down countless pairs of trainers walking and running through the stunning grounds of Blenheim Palace for the Oxford Hospitals Charity. We also have volunteers on the day to cheer people on – it’s a real collective effort.
Why do we do this? Firstly, from a personal perspective, we wanted to give something back to the county that’s been so good to us. Last year, we launched a new office in London – an expansion made possible because of the loyalty of our existing client and customer base here in Oxford over the last 20 years.
Oxford is such a good place for us to do business and, as importantly, our employees want to be engaged with the place they live and work in. Taking part in the run creates a real sense of excitement in the office – there’s a lot of banter about how people are doing in training and how they will perform on the day. We all get together afterwards and commiserate over our aching muscles.
Having grown up in the area myself, I wanted to support the hospital that’s looked after our family over the years. We hear that Clients and Candidates have benefitted, and when you have those conversations with people you feel a real sense of shared purpose.
And it’s not just the OX5 Run we support. Over the last few years, we’ve given donations to the Ley Community – a therapeutic space for those fighting personal battles to overcome dependency and addiction – including funds for their annual Christmas meal.
Again, this links into our ethos as a company. We’re all about finding the right talent for the right businesses. Those that go through the centre go on to be productive members of the community, both working and living locally, which is really rewarding to see.
We have also worked with Aspire, a charity and social enterprise supporting homeless and disadvantaged people. In the past, we’ve supported their big sleep-out and I co-wrote a whitepaper about open and inclusive recruitment policies, encouraging businesses to help those from diverse backgrounds get back into employment.
What we’re really proud of is the response we’ve had from Clients and Candidates to these initiatives. Since sponsoring the Oxford Mail OX5 Run, the growth of the charity’s corporate following has increased. The event is open to everyone, but it’s great to see more businesses getting involved. We all dress up in our branded t-shirts and there’s a lot of good-natured, competitive joking.
Amongst other things, the money from the run has contributed to new on-site accommodation, allowing parents to stay next to their children in hospital, and paid for a micro-biology scanner able to detect different types of meningitis in just a few hours.
Whenever we visit the hospital, to see what we have been able to achieve through fundraising, it feels like our efforts have been so worthwhile. When you know what a difference it makes, I think most businesses would want to be involved.
Together, we share some incredible memories of the years we’ve taken part, with celebrities like Jason Donovan and Raymond Blanc starting the race, and David Cameron starting, running and raising over £4,000 in his role as Witney MP and Conservative Party leader – we even had our picture taken together before the start of the race.
This endorsement from famous figures has been memorable, but it’s the dedicated staff and the young people at Oxford Children’s Hospital who are the stars of the show. They, and their friends and family work incredibly hard to raise huge amounts of money on the day. It’s certainly not about being first, because a lot of people who are doing the run may have faced challenges with their health.
For us, it’s a very loving, fun, emotional and meaningful event to take part in. This year’s event is already set to be a record breaker, with 300 runners signed up, so we’re very much looking forward to taking part on March 24th.
If you want to join the fun and support a worthwhile cause, dust off those running shoes and get involved!