COMIC RELIEF SPECIAL
On Friday a student paranormal society raised £145 for comic relief. Aura and Palm readings were held in the Student Union Building from 10 am – 4 pm. The event was a surprise hit for organisers and customers alike.
“I’m going to find love in the next few weeks,” said Gemma Tasker, a Biology student from Leeds. “I don’t know how true that is, but its’ definitely lifted my spirits and put a smile on my face”. Gemma, 22, had just had her palm read. “I’m not into this sort of thing normally, but since it was for comic relief and it was so cheap, I thought I might as well give it a go”. She was one of many students who had her palm and aura read as part of a charity fundraising event.
The Speculative Analysis Society was “set up in 2003” explains Sharyn Williams, Chairperson and founding member. “We are interested in everything paranormal. Although our main focus is mostly ghosts and things that go bump in the night, we also have an interest in auras, palm reading, tarot cards, divination, and meditations.” Sharyn, 23, was adamant that her society should contribute to Comic Relief. “I do a lot of volunteering work for charity, so red nose day was an important date in my calendar, but I just couldn’t for the life of me think what our society could do”.
Not to be defeated, Sharyn demanded the society hold a brainstorming session. “I had the idea at the last minute.” admits James Kendall, a member of two years. “It was a bit short notice, but I managed to convince some of our society members to utilise their talents into raising money for charity.” On Friday, March 16th, a stall was set up in the Students Union building. The sign above it advertised ‘Palm and Aura readings, £1.50 each’.
“Because it was Comic Relief and we were wearing big red noses we were concerned that people wouldn’t take us seriously” said James, a specialist in reading auras, “but that proved to be nonsense as virtually from the word go, people were queuing up for it!”.
In fact, “From the moment I sat down at 10 am until we finished at 4 pm we had constant business” says Brian Roberts, the days volunteering palmist, “I didn’t even have time for a coffee!” Brian, who normally charges £20 for a palm reading was “more than happy to have done it. I was concerned that no one would turn up because due to the short notice we only advertised the event on the intranet.”, but Brian, 25, was more than content with the money they raised, “If we had had any more advertising I think I’d be sat there reading palms until Christmas!”
The success of the Comic Relief event has persuaded the society to raise money for more charities. They are currently organising a ghost hunt in a haunted mansion to raise money for Oxfam.
COMIC RELIEF DOES… NORTH WALES
Friday witnessed Comic Relief raising their highest ever money total. In excess of £40 Million was collected, almost £3 million more than the last Red Nose Day. Many North Wales locals were involved in the fundraising.
Launched in 1985 from a refugee camp in Safawa, Sudan, the organisation has collected over £174 million in the years since. According to a spokesman on their website, “We're committed to supporting long-term projects, helping people to help themselves. It's about giving people a leg up not a hand out. We also aim to tackle the root causes of poverty by raising awareness around some of the key issues, such as unfair terms of trade and debt relief”.
But the organisation is quick to point out that not all the money raised goes towards causes in Africa. “The money collected in the run up to Red Nose Day is split with 60% to be spent in Africa and 40% in the UK.” Over the past 20 years £7.3 million has been spent in Wales alone. They support “over 300 projects in Wales”, which include “a project which helps young people in rural areas experiencing deterioration in their mental health” and Help the Aged programmes.
The people of Wales have also been very involved in the fundraising process. “I saw a TV show about it in school” says Gwen Davies, “so I wanted to help make money for red nose day”. Gwen, 14, and her friend Josie, 13, spent the day walking around Maesgeirchen washing cars. “People were really nice. We only asked for £2, but most gave us more. One man even gave us a five pound note!” They finished the day with almost £60.
Similar services included dog walking in Bangor by Jonathan Powell, 16, and grass cutting by Stephen Williams. Both of which raised £35 and £55, respectively.
Students provided a palm and aura reading service in the Student Union which raised £145, while Llanllechid Primary School held a raffle that made over £250.
However Comic Relief states that it is not all about money. “Informing, educating, raising awareness and promoting social change is also important”, says their spokesman, “as is allocating the funds in a responsible and effective way to a wide range of charities which we select after careful research”.
PROFILE OF COMIC GENIUS RICHARD CURTIS
PROFILE OF COMIC GENIUS RICHARD CURTIS
A successful British comedy writer with film credits such as Notting Hill and Love Actually, Richard Curtis always demanded more from his career than personal wealth.
He was on a trip to Ethiopia organised by development agency Oxfam in the early 1980’s when he recognised that “my position within the entertainment industry could be used to make a positive change”. He returned to London with a plan to use his contacts in the world of television comedy to make “a real difference”.
Born in New Zealand, but globetrotting with his family to Sweden, the Philippines, and various other countries during his childhood, Curtis finally settled in England at the age of 11. He went on to achieve a first-class degree in English Language and Literature at Christ Church, Oxford, befriending Rowan Atkinson along the way. The pair then earned successful careers in comedy entertainment, writing for Not the Nine O’clock News and working together on period comedy Blackadder. Then, in 1984 he decided that he should be doing more to help the impoverished.
“I completely believe in the opportunity to hand over ten of my pounds to somebody somewhere else” Curtis told Jon Snow in an interview for the Community Channel in 2005, “It’s always driven me completely mad that I would be walking through a street in Africa and somebody would say ‘can I have ten quid?’ and I would have to say ‘look I’m sorry mate but we actually are sorting this out politically. Don’t worry, your grandchildren won’t be in the same situation, if it all goes fine you’ll be ok but I’ll keep my ten quid’"
Comic Relief was born, and by 1987 had become a television event that would occur every 2 years thereafter. But 20 years on Curtis was still unsatisfied with the current state of the world and formed the organisation Make Poverty History. "Well I’d been doing Comic Relief for 20 years, and very strongly believed in that side of it, that it’s a person to person hand over of resources. But for about the last two I’ve been thinking ‘is this the best way for me to spend 6 months?’ because Bob Geldof once told me that he made more money over a cup of tea with Mitterrand than he did in the whole of Band Aid and Live Aid."
Curtis would eventually organise his own ‘Live Aid’ with Geldof at Gleneagles G8 Summit. He is currently working with Anthony Minghella on a film due for release in 2009.