Comedian Hugh Dennis thanks Emsworth for Comic Relief spectacular

STAR TURN Comedian Hugh Dennis collects a cheque from the people of Emsworth who organised Red Nose Weekend Picture: Alistair Gibson
STAR TURN Comedian Hugh Dennis collects a cheque from the people of Emsworth who organised Red Nose Weekend Picture: Alistair Gibson
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TELEVISION star Hugh Dennis has given a huge thank you to everyone who spent a weekend giggling and dancing for Comic Relief.

Emsworth’s Red Nose Weekend raised £15,000 for the charity with comedy workshops, fashion shows, a cycle-a-thon, a silent disco, fancy dress and a duck race.

Yesterday the funnyman, who stars in the award-winning BBC show Outnumbered, joined the organisers of last month’s event to pick up a huge cheque.

Hugh, who lives near Chichester, said: ‘Wow. From me and on behalf of everyone at Comic Relief, I’d like to say thank you, Emsworth – the UK’s first Red Nose Town.

‘You’ve been very busy. The amount that’s been raised is enough to vaccinate over 3,500 children in Africa against five deadly childhood diseases.

‘Or it could pay for a year’s worth of home visits. That means friendship, company and support for 75 isolated older people in the UK.

‘One weekend of silliness, revelry and generosity really will touch and transform many lives – providing we can find a way to get this huge cardboard cheque through the cashier’s window.’

The idea for the weekend, held over March 13 to 15, came from Mark Ringwood, organiser of the arts festival WemsFest. Businesses renamed themselves for a few days – for example Fat Olives restaurant became Red Olives.

A silent disco in the town’s main square on Red Nose Day itself took place under the gaze of one of four huge red noses which appeared in Emsworth over the weekend.

More than 250 people, most in fancy dress, attended the event and, on Mothering Sunday, there was Pennies Across the Millpond, which linked both the town’s sailing clubs with pennies.

Emma Freud director of Red Nose Day added: ‘What has happened in Emsworth this year for Comic Relief is a magnificent first.

‘The first time an entire town has embraced Red Nose Day, thrown themselves into the idea, and created comedy and fun in every possible corner. Even the cheese counter. We are in awe of them. I want to live there now.’

Alistair Gibson, from Emsworth Business Association, said the event will live long in the memories of the people of the town.