BBC Children in Need 2011

November 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Children in Need's Pudsey (photo credited to tEdits - flickr)

From 7.30PM til midnight tonight I sat down and watched the BBC’s ‘Children in Need‘ Appeal Show.

This is an annual fundraising event that has been going on, in telethon format, since 1980. And since 1985 the official mascot of Children in Need has been Pudsey the bear.

Children in Need is the BBC UK’s corporate charity. It provides grants to UK projects which focus on disadvantaged children and young people. Children living in poverty, suffering from severe disabilities and life altering illnesses, children who suffer abuse of all kinds.

Every year the BBC hosts an Appeal Show which provides entertainment from a wide range of celebrities, and encourages you and me -the public- to donate money to this worthy cause.

Rickshaw Ride

Tonight’s show was kicked off by the One Show’s Matt Baker riding over the finish line of the BBC’s Television Centre at around 7.20PM. Baker had cycled (pulling a rickshaw) the 480 miles from Edinburgh to London in eight days. He raised £1.2 million.

Exhausted Baker talked about the support he received throughout his journey:

“I haven’t gone a 1/4 of a mile on my own… people clapping, cheering, beeping and waving.”

This evening’s show was hosted by Terry Wogan. He was joined throughout the night by Alesha Dixon (one of Strictly Come Dancing’s jduges), followed by Strictly presenter Tess Daley, and taking the show until it’s closing at 2AM tomorrow morning, Fearne Cotton.

Acts on the show this evening included live performances from: Susan Boyle, Gok Wan, Olly Murs, JLS, One Direction (who sang two numbers), The Collective (singing the official 2011 Children in Need song, ‘Teardrop‘), Westlife, the (recently reunited) Steps, as well as group performances from the cast of Eastenders (singing a wonderful, hilarious Queen medley) and actors from Hollyoaks (singing ‘Forget You‘).

It’s the stories that count

Now, I’ll be honest: the main reason I sat and watched for so long this evening was the promise of seeing Westlife perform live (yes, if you must, mock away).

However, I soon found myself captivated by the show itself. And not just by the acts, but by the stories of real children and their families who benefit from the projects funded by Children in Need.

Take, for example, the story of Elliot, aged 9, who was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago. In spite of intensive chemotherapy Elliot’s cancer kept coming back, and a bone marrow transplant was his final option.

In January this year all looked to be going well when a donor was found. Two days before the donor had to back out. By the time another donor could be found it was too late. Sadly, Elliot died earlier this year. But in the three weeks leading up to his death, he and his family, spent time at Claire House, a children’s hospice.

Listening to Elliot’s mother talk about the care and support Elliot, and his family received during their extremely difficult time made me realise just how important charities like these, among many others, are to our communities and just how much they need our support.

While the entertainment on the show is what captures people’s attention it is the emotion that comes from watching the stories, like Elliot’s, that gets people to phone in and pledge money.

I will admit that watching these stories caused me to get a lump in my throat and make my eyes well up just a little bit. It sure put my everyday problems of university and relationships into perspective and made me realise that there are people out there much less lucky than I.

And fundraising for Children in Need isn’t restricted to this evening. Last night in Manchester, Gary Barlow organised a musical event, called ‘Children in Need Rocks Manchester.’ Performances included acts by Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Jessie J, Andrea Bocelli, Snow Patrol and Micheal Buble. Man do I wish I could have been there!

And fundraising has been going on amongst schools, community groups and many wonderful organisations.

At the start of the Appeal Show £4 million pounds had been raised. By the time I’d decided to drag myself away from the TV, £19,555,068 had been raised.

If you are keen to donate, click on the link.

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