Wednesday 6 January 2010, 16:33
I remember 5 years ago - after my first Radio 4 Christmas at the helm - being amazed when I was told how much money listeners gave to the Radio 4 Christmas Appeal (for the work of St Martin-in-the-Fields with homeless and vulnerable people across the UK). I knew of the existence of the Appeal (it has been around for 83 years since Lord Reith granted it) - but not its magnitude.
Every year I muse on the ratio of the amount of money donated to the number of minutes or hours of broadcast time devoted to publicising the appeal. And my hunch is that this ratio is astonishingly high for Radio 4. It is both true and excellent that Children in Need/Comic Relief do so well. They raise tens of millions in a terrifically entertaining way. That takes many hours.
The Radio 4 Christmas appeal is a tad quieter on-air. The Vicar, Revd. Nicholas Holtam launched it early on a Sunday morning in mid-December and we did a programme on how the money raised makes a difference to those who received it. And there have been other on-air reminders.
By the twelfth day of Christmas, the appeal had raised over £700,000, which is just below what was raised in the whole of last year's appeal - despite the recession.
One of our Radio 4 Appeal charities recently put it rather beautifully when they said: "we were so moved by how our appeal touched the hearts of so many generous strangers". I can only echo that sentiment for this year's Christmas Appeal and say 'thank you' on behalf of Radio 4.
Mark Damazer is Controller of BBC Radio 4
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