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The History Of Children In Need

The BBC’s Children In Need charity aims to make a big difference to the lives of impoverished and disadvantaged children and young people in the UK. Every year in mid-November a telethon takes place on BBC that features the charity’s mascot Pudsey Bear and long-standing host Terry Wogan together with multiple celebrities, fundraising tales, and clips of where the money is needed most and what it will be used for.
Since 1980, the charity has raised more than £600million for children and young people in the UK. Organisations that work with children aged 18 and younger with psychological, physical or sensory disorders, who are living in poverty, or who are suffering through neglect, abuse or distress, have all benefited from the charity.

The charity has certainly come a long way since its beginnings in the late 1920s.

Early days: Radio and TV appeals

The BBC made its first charity appeal in 1927. This consisted of a 5-minute radio broadcast on Christmas Day that raised around £1,143, which is about £27,000 by today’s standards. The money was shared between four children’s charities.
In 1955, the first televised appeal was made called Children’s Hour Christmas Appeal and presented by Sooty and Harry Corbett. Until 1979, these Christmas Day appeals took place on TV and radio, raising a total of £625,836. Terry Wogan made his first appearance in the 1978 appeal.

Later days: Telethons

The first telethon took place in 1980 and raised £1million for children’s charities across the UK. Fronted by Terry Wogan, Sue Lawley and Esther Rantzen, this format captured the imagination of the public and has been used ever since.
Pudsey Bear made his TV debut in 1985, as a brown cuddly mascot. Designed by BBC graphic designer Joanna Ball, the bear was named after her hometown in West Yorkshire. The following year, Pudsey became the official logo of the charity and was redesigned to be the yellow bear with red-spotted bandage. He stayed this way until 2007 when he received a new bandana and brighter colours.

Children In Need

In 1988 Children In Need became a registered charity in England and Wales, and a registered charity in Scotland in 2008.
Nowadays, the annual telethon is a 7-hour-long programme that features celebrities and singers, and spans sketches, music and more. The amount raised so far is flashed up on screen and viewers are encouraged to make a donation in return for the evening’s entertainment. There is also a section for people who have been busy fundraising for the charity in the run-up to the telethon – with ideas ranging from the likes of sponsored sits in baths of baked beans to cake days and runs. People across the country get involved including schools and businesses as well as individuals.
Activity extends across other BBC TV and radio channels and before the telethon BBC Radio 2 hosts four days of fundraising which often raises in excess of £1million.
The Children In Need telethon in 2011 raised a record amount of £26,332,334.

  • Photograph by Mike Fleming (via Wikimedia Commons) [CC BY 2.0]
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  •  License: Creative Commons image source

This article was writen by guest author, L. Keen, who actively gives to charity and often blogs about children’s needs and welfare, often on behalf of their favourite toy retailers such as Gifts For Tweens.

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