Comic Relief (Red Nose Day) in general
On Christmas Day 1985, whilst at a Sudan refugee camp, Comic Relief was launched. They realised something had to be done to help those in famine in Ethiopia. In order to do so they asked British comedians to make people laugh for money. This all went to those desperately in need in Africa and those here in the UK. In 1988 the ... first Red Nose Day was aired on the BBC with comedians and charity events raising money for those in need. On the first Red Nose Day a massive £15 million was raised and benefited those in need.
In 2001 Comic Relief launched Sports Relief. This is now alternate years with Red Nose Day and instead of 'do something funny for money', people are encouraged to do sports instead whilst still raising money for charity. Red Nose Day is every odd numbered year whilst Sports Relief is even. Sports Relief also funds those in need in Africa and the UK.
Red Nose Day urges people to 'do something funny for money' and schools, work places and communities oblige every year raising millions of pounds.
Most schools and work places across the UK contribute to the raisings by doing charity events. I used to love Red Nose Day at school because we always had fun. We would pay a pound to wear mufti or something red, have cake sales, throw sponges at teachers, and many more activities whilst wearing our red noses. Whilst at secondary school we had the opportunity to pay to leave the last lesson and participate in money raising activities.
Another way they raise money is through the tv programmes. They seem to have Red Nose Day specials for everything. Already I have watched Lets Dance for Comic Relief, Pointless Red Nose Day Special and the Great British Bake Off Red Nose Day Special and it's not even Red Nose Day yet. Along with the main Red Nose Day programme, which lasts hours, they encourage viewers to vote and text donations.
As part of the fundraising celebrities are encouraged to do challenging activities which they wouldn't usually do. Some of these have included climbing Kilimanjaro, trekking across a desert and hosting the first 24 hour panel show. These are always supported by the British public and raise amazing amounts of money.
My favorite person to watch around Red Nose Day and Sports Relief is Helen Skelton as she completes the hardest challenges but is never willing to let the charity down. As part of Blue Peter she completes a challenge every year to raise money for Comic Relief. This has included a 78 mile marathon in Namibia completing it with 15 minutes spare of 24 hours and the London marathon weeks after. Kayaking the whole 2010 miles of the Amazon river alone, from Peru to Brazil. Tightrope walking across 150 metres between the chimneys at the battersea power stations, whilst 66 metres high in the air. Last year she cycled 329 miles to the south pole. This year she has a 'magnificent seven' challenge which includes getting a picture featured in the radio times, starring in two musicals in one night, getting a goal in rugby, walking across a tightrope over a river whilst being hit with sponges, gunge, feathers and a big fan machine and some others which haven't been announced yet. She has raised a lot of money for the charity and has proven to be very determined to succeed.
Red Nose Day also sell merchandise to raise money which is now nearly anything, from books to t-shirts to bags. The most well known has to be the red nose. When I wore them at Primary School I remember a plastic nose which was really hard and pinched your nose, they are now softer and made from foam but very hard to breathe from. The red noses change each Red Nose Day. They started as a plastic red ball, have grown arms, hair, eyes and noses, become pirates and now they are diNOSEsaurs. This year there is Dinomite, with his mouth wide open and teeth showing, T-Spec, with closed mouth and glasses, and Triceytops, very cute with a small nose and eyes. I have T-Spex. They can be bought by a donation. Each red nose includes a paper with some jokes and pictures of the other noses.
In the UK the money raised helps people who have issues with mental health and alcohol, domestic abuse and violence, sexual abuse, the elderly and young carers.
The money is used in Africa by helping those living in urban slums, with HIV and aids, helping them cope with the climate and helping them trade and young children with vaccinations to help them with health.
Since 1985 Comic Relief has raised over £800 million from both charity events. This is a fantastic charity which deserves all the money it can get to help those disadvantaged both here, in the UK, and other poorer countries. I have just donated £5 worth of dooyoo miles to Comic Relief, will you do the same?
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Teddy Bear Parachuting
I don't normally mark the milestone reviews on dooyoo but it seems that a 500th review calls for something in the lounge. It's as if we must post in an even more poorly paid place than normal in order to show our devotion to dooyoo. I could claim it was planned but in reality my suggestion just came through at the right time. Enough of ... this - let's get on to the topic of chucking bears off cranes and high buildings.
~When the Going Gets Tough, the Bears Get Jumping~
My friend Pooh was always destined to fly. My husband adopted him for me on our first anniversary, noting that I needed someone to keep an eye on me when I was travelling. In nearly 13 years since then, he's been a bear who 'gets about a bit', a bear who's not bothered by rub-down searches or life in the overhead locker. He's a fearless little fella but he was somewhat taken aback when we challenged his little furry butt to throw itself off a high place in the interests of proving his bravery and raising money for charity.
It came about by pure fluke. My husband and I went to visit my parents in Salisbury for the long weekend of the Royal Wedding. Walking through the Cathedral Close I spotted a poster advertising a charity fundraiser with a difference. The Salisbury Hospitals 'Stars Appeal' raises money for kids who are treated by the local hospitals and one of their key events is a now annual Teddy Bear Parachuting day. I was tickled by the idea and volunteered my little friend as the victim of this particularly bizarre 'sport'. With only two weeks to raise money we set him a target of £40 and made him a justgiving page to facilitate donations. There's no fee for your bear to jump but each bear has to raise £10 in order to qualify for the event. In the case of the Cathedral jump, all bears had to be registered by post a few days before the event. I thought £40 in two weeks was a realistic target but I hadn't banked on the generosity of my friends and the figure crept up every day or two, eventually rising to £107.
~It's a Sport - Apparently~
Prior to seeing the poster I'd not heard of Teddy Bear Parachuting - or 'parafauna' as I learned it's sometimes called (there's a page on Wikipedia for literally everything these days). Bears are an inclusive bunch and don't mind other soft toys joining them in their sport. Watch out for para-dinosaurs, para-dogs, para-Hello Kitties and we even saw a para-Yoda at our event floating down after a para-Disney princess. If you've got a soft friend who's in need of an adrenaline rush, then Teddy Bear Parachuting may be just the thing.
Events vary in format depending on where they are held. In the Salisbury Cathedral version, they use a high-reach cherry-picker platform belonging to the local fire brigade and volunteer firemen turn out to help with the
event. This is nice for the ladies because there's definitely something in the female genetic programming that means most of us like a nice fireman (my dad was a fireman so I guess that proves the point with women in our family!) In some places bears are launched off church towers and there are even events where light aircraft or kites are used to put teds into the air. There's a group of aircraft para-teds who go by the name of the 'Ted Berets' - that had me snorting in my coffee for several minutes when I read about it.
Some of you may be wondering why anyone would choose to do something so stupid and what's in it for the organizers. I spoke to one of the people from the Stars Appeal and he said that the Ted Jump is not one of their biggest fund raisers but it's the one that gets the most local kids involved. Since their whole purpose is to raise funds for children, it's a great event for raising awareness amongst young people and their parents. The Salisbury event asks for a minimum sponsorship of £10 per bear. I hope and assume that the fire brigade do their bit free of charge and that most of the staffing of the event is through volunteers. Over 200 bears were registered this year which was apparently down significantly on last year which may be due to bears getting blasé about the challenge or perhaps something to do with the number of bears who got blown into trees to the distress of their young owners last year. None the less, most bears will raise more than the £10 target and if you raise over £100 there's a free bear to take home with your bear as a new friend. We donated our new bear back to the appeal and asked them to give it to one of the kids they support instead. I would suggest that many organisers would be able to increase their income on such an event by selling drinks, snacks and holding raffles or having toy sales. However, at the cathedral the organisers are probably more limited in what they can do by the rather serious nature of the place. I can't see the Dean and Chapter approving a bottle stall in the Cathedral grounds for example. A kids play area had been set up for the smaller children and to help pass the time whilst they waited for their bears to jump but other than the joy of watching bears having a great time, there wasn't too much for people to do.
~Pooh's Big Day - The Bear Steps up to the Mark~
On the day we headed into Salisbury with Pooh and his support crew in my mother's spare old-lady trolley. We passed through the Cathedral Close a couple of hours before the event was due to start and saw the lifting platforms and watched the organisers setting up the tents for registration, parachute fitting and so on. We showed Pooh the Cathedral and the crane, thinking that it was probably better that he be mentally prepared for the challenge to come. And then we went for lunch. The event ran between 1 pm and 4 pm but the organisers were asking people not to all turn up at 1 o'clock because there would be delays if everyone wanted to jump at the same time. Being obedient and helpful souls we rolled up at about 2.30 pm. I took Pooh to register, handing over a print out of his Justgiving page as well as £15 in cash that he'd been given. We were given his jump voucher then went to the stall where they had spare labels and wrote one up with his name and my mum's phone number on it. Last year a few bears got separated from their humans and there was quite a bit of upset. One woman told us she had to take off across the grass at great speed when someone went off with her son's bear.
The next step was parachute fitting. We handed him and his voucher to the fitters who weighed him up and chose a white parachute as being the best option. It's important that your bear doesn't get the wrong sized chute; too small and he'll fly like a brick, too big and he could be 15 miles away before he's back to earth. Once the parachutes are fitted - using rubber bands around their arms - the bears go into laundry baskets to wait for the crane.
We headed off to set up the 'Team Pooh' support centre on the perimeter of the jump field. His brothers Alfie and Ralfie were propped up on against the trolley with their banners reading 'Jump Pooh!' Surprisingly he seemed to be the only bear to bring cheerleaders. Equally he seemed to be the only bear without a child companion. We watched a batch of jumpers, gasping as one purple elephant got his parachute caught in the firemen's ladders, laughing as a few jumped onto the roof of the fire engine, and worrying a little when some small bears got caught by the wind and were blown off track. Teddy Medics in white coats ran around the field trying to catch the bears so they wouldn't hurt themselves on landing.
Pooh and his companions went up in the lift and we waited. Hello Kittie leaped and became 'Goodbye Kittie'. A panda drifted gently to earth. Yoda and the Disney princess followed a massive T-rex in their descent and eventually - last of the bunch - Pooh prepared to jump. The Fireman threw him in the air, the chute failed to open and he plunged to the earth like a school science project to prove the existence of gravity. We were so disappointed; the little fella didn't have a chance. Alfie and Ralfie giggled unsympathetically.
I went to collect Pooh and told the parachute fitters that his parachute hadn't opened. "Then he must try again" said the volunteer. "This time we'll give him a bigger parachute". And so Pooh went again. Once again he was the last one out. I'd like to think that the Firemen recognised his importance and were trying to save the best until last. I suspect he was clinging onto the laundry basket and refusing to jump. Eventually he appeared on the platform. The fireman gave him a 'Not this one again' look and launched him off the top. This time all went well. His parachute opened and he glided gently down and was caught by the Teddy Medic. Honour had been served. We collected him and went to get his 'Certificate of Bravery'.
~A Few Tips for You and Your Bear~
If you find yourself tempted to put your bear or bears through something similar, please take note of the following tips. I noticed that bears with big heads do better than bears that are bottom-heavy. If your bear is weighted in the bum (like Pooh is) he will parachute in a vertical position. If your bear's arms are nearer the centre of gravity, he or she will float horizontal which seems to slow them down a bit. Don't take a bear that's desperately precious or very delicate - your 100 year old Steiff is not a suitable candidate. Bears must have no hard parts and must be entirely soft - I guess this is for the protection of the Medics who don't want to be hit by a hard object falling at great speed. If the weather looks really nasty or the ground is muddy, choose a machine washable volunteer. Bears need to be - in the words of Goldilocks - not too big and not too small. Event organisers will advise on ideal sizes. Titchy bears might get lost and the 6 foot monster bear will not fit on the platform unless he replaces one of the firemen and they probably won't have a big enough parachute. We went to the Cathedral's café with the bears for a celebratory hot chocolate and a bit of boasting. As we sat in the glass roofed building my husband shouted "Look" and we watched a small bear sail over the roof and off to who-knows-where. We laughed - but I felt pretty worried for his family.
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Comic Relief (Red Nose Day) in general
Comic Refief this year made more money on the night than any other Comic Relief. And I can only think that this is because people were bored watching some of the drivel on-screen and took to waiting on the phone-line, constantly pressing re-dial to get through. No, thats a little harsh. The shows and 'special' editions ... of programs were quite good, but it was the complete lack of atmosphere in the main studio that marred an otherwise great evening's viewing. Did they pull the audience from the local old-persons home? There must have been a sever lack of warm-up comedians, as they all seemed like they were about to fall asleep. Unfotunately this bordom from the audience slipped into my house and soon I was trying to find other things to do while Lenny Henry bounced about the screen screaming.
Ant and Dec who started the ball rolling were quite funny and got a good responce, but it was downhill from there, until later on when Johnathan Ross and Graham Norton came on, who both seemed to be able to break the audience out of their slumber with content that was actually funny. Graham Norton seemed to take them to a peak, and it is just a shame BBC didn't give him enough time to do all the things he does so well on Channel 4. I can only presume that the other presenters bombarded the audience with moving scenes of Africa's plight between the times they were on.
I know Comic Relief is all about charity, but for the studio audience it looks like they were left out of the comedy sections that we were all able to watch at home on TV. Craning your neck to watch a monitor high above your head has less of an effect, and so something should have been done to keep them occupied and full of life as they sat in their seats for six hours.
But how funny was Ali G? Coming out with a 'Help Africa' slogan above a picture of Italy woven into his shell-suit was the first joke in a long line of wind-ups aimed at David and Victori a Beckham. Good on them for allowing the mickey to be taken out of them so much in the name of charity.
Big Brother was made by Jack Dee. I only wish the had shown more like Vanessa Feltz's 3 hour stint crying in the diary room after she found out she was one of the two who could be voted out. But it was Mr. Dee's antics and mad escape attempts that made it all the more funny.
Victor Mildrew's take on The Sixth Sence was good, but some of the other comediand didn't have enough time to show what they can actually do. The few minutes that Billy Connelly was on screen showed that he should have been snapped up as one of the night's main presenters. Some of the other programs didn't work so well, like the They Think Its All Over / Never Mind The Buzzcocks / Have I got News For You show. It migth have been good had the comedy not stopped after every round to show the same video's of life in Africa that had been shown 20 minutes earlier.
I don't want this opinion to sound like I am having a go because we got so many clips of Africa and the people in the UK that need cash to survive and, hopefully lead a normal life. I am not. Comic Relief is all about giving money to a worthy cause and is a very worthwhile organisation which I support, but it has always had the aspect of comedy - hence the name. I think that sometimes the comedy was ruined by the fact that shows were interupted so much by the same clips over and over again. Had the been kept and shown together at set times throughout the night then they may have had more of an effect on the viewers. Yes, I want to see what is happening with the cash I give, but not at the expence of other programs that people have put work into to produce specifically for this show.
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Discussion / Fundraising for charity in which soft toys are thrown off high buildings for sponsorship
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