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A game of two halves - a Sport Relief roundup

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Diane Reid Diane Reid | 17:15 UK time, Thursday, 8 April 2010

bleakely.jpgThey did incredibly well! This year's Sport Relief raised over £30m for disadvantaged people in the UK and across the world - an astonishing 50% increase on last year's total of £20m. Audience numbers were up too, from 8 million to 9.4 million.

Comic Relief's Red Nose Day campaign grew out of a desire to harness the talents of entertainers, especially comics, to make a positive change to the lives of disadvantaged people. Many comics have a strong sense of justice: this motivates many who take part in charity fundraising.

For Sport Relief, the association with sport means the potential for teamwork, challenge, international community, a sense of pushing yourself to the limit, which inspires people to step out of their comfort zone in aid of charity.

Eddie Izzard, an actor and comedian with no special athletic ability, ran a lonely, painful, awe-inspiring 43 marathons in 51 days. He raised over a million pounds for Sport Relief. James Corden took a considerable risk by performing an epic solo comedy sketch before thousands of sportsmen and women at the Sheffield Arena - a one take wonder with only a minute of recording time to spare. Christine Bleakley water-skied across the Channel and Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton kayaked 2010 miles down the River Amazon for Sport Relief, breaking two world records in the process.

I was one of many people massively moved by Chris Moyles' film from a malaria clinic in Uganda where tiny babies were being given emergency treatment. Chris allowed the audience to share his feelings in the bleakest of circumstances. This was very different from Chris' usual style on Radio 1's breakfast show. BT handled 386,978 calls to the donation line during the live TV show, peaking at 210 calls per second.

But apart from the celebrities, there were the less famous contributors, who raised money or donated. There were runners in South Africa, in Manchester's Coronation Street set, around Television Centre and in local parks. There were films about inspirational local leaders in Africa and across the UK, and doctors and nurses working in daunting and difficult circumstances, all carrying out the work funded by Comic Relief.

In a less spectacular way, the BBC's other appeals continue throughout the year. Radio Merseyside has just launched an appeal for mobile clinics for the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre. BBC One's Lifeline is currently filming with Sandy Toksvig and a charity called Five Talents, showing how it supports microfinance in Tanzania. You'll be able to see the programme on 23 May.

[This is my last blog as BBC Charity Appeals Adviser, as I'm moving on to work as Chief Adviser for BBC North.]


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