Red Nose Day - a fun way to help others

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Red Nose Day is a nationwide fund-raising event held every other year in the United Kingdom. It's organized by the charity "Comic Relief" and has been held 11 times since 1988.

Comic Relief was launched to help relieve suffering caused by famine in Ethiopia, and has continued to help tackle poverty and help thousands of poor and disadvantaged people at home in the UK as well as Africa.

In 1988, some of the most famous UK comedians, including Lenny Henry, Griff Rhys Jones, Jonathan Ross, Rowan Atkinson, and Dawn French, presented a live comedy show to launch Comic Relief. By the end of the evening they raised more than £15 million. The last one in 2005 raised more than £65 million. The grand total since 1988 is in excess of £425 million.

Do you really wear a Red Nose?

Yes! As the name suggests, the day involves the wearing a red nose, which is available, in exchange for a small donation, from most shops. On your way to work over or while your out and about over the next few weeks you will come across cars, buses and trucks and sometimes buildings with big plastic red noses stuck to the front to remind us that the event is coming around again.

The design of the nose changes each year, the first Red Nose was a fairly plain plastic nose which later grew arms and legs, turned into a tomato, grew eyes and hair, and one year even changed color. This year's nose has grown significantly. It's massive, it's red and is called the 'The Big One.'

On Red Nose Day itself you'll see people in the street wearing plastic red noses and funny costumes and brightly-colored hair. Even royalty and politicians get involved. A popular gimmick for the 2005 effort was to wear very large wild bright hair, with crazy costumes to boot.

Red Nose day is held in the spring every second year and is often treated as a semi-holiday, with, for example schools having a non-uniform day and office and shop workers often coming to work in fancy dress.

Fundraising events will be held all over the country in schools, clubs, pubs, village halls and businesses, in addition to the telethon that's a big feature of BBC TV and radio throughout the evening of March 16.

How is the money raised?

Comic Relief and Red Nose Day attract enormous support both from the public and from commercial organizations, and is proud that all money raised is used entirely for charitable work, both at home and abroad. The cash can be raised by sponsorship, or by donation. Usually Brits break out in weird and wonderful ways, as actors wear red noses performing Shakespeare, office workers go to work in their pajamas and slippers, students eat disgusting food (no change there then), some sit in bathtubs full of baked beans or steaming manure, while others try and cram as many friends as possible into a phone box, or a car. Madcap people abound, raising money while having fun.

For more information, go to www.comicrelief.org.uk or www.rednoseday.com and join in the fun.

Editor's note: Information for this article was compiled from www.comicrelief.org.uk