Home > About us home > News and events > News > Inspired by.....The power of comedy: Alumna and Director of Red Nose Day Emma Freud
More in this section News articles

Inspired by.....The power of comedy: Alumna and Director of Red Nose Day Emma Freud

Posted on 12/03/2013

As we fast approach Red Nose Day this Friday, we spoke to alumna and fundraiser extraordinaire Emma Freud OBE, about this year’s Comic Relief projects, getting celebrities and mobile phone companies on board and filming with David Walliams.

Just how hectic is it being Director of Red Nose Day?

Actually, I've never known it so busy. At the moment I'm answering about 250 emails per day. It's pretty manic here, but obviously that's a great thing. It's as if Red Nose Day now has its own momentum - people are volunteering to do remarkable things without us needing to beg them in the way we used to. Our job now is to make sure that every avenue is as effective as it can possibly be, and to make connections between different events so that they capitalise on each other. Also to make sure that the TV show is the best it's ever been - I think this year it will be. We learn from our mistakes every year. Look out for the David Walliams sketch - some of it was filmed outside my front door - it's very naughty!

How big is your team now and has Red Nose Day got easier to do over the last 21 years?

When I started there 21 years ago there were about 40 of us. It's now about 200 people all year round, putting together Red Nose Day and Sport Relief. And then an extra 50 or so join in the last three months leading up to the events. It's got easier in some ways - less need for the hard sell, more open doors. But I feel very strongly that we have to beat our totals every time. Last year we raised an insane £108 million - SO much more than we'd expected, so this year, the pressure is intense.

Who benefited the most from the last year’s donations and what are your priority projects for this year?

A third of the money goes to projects in the UK. They all deal with the root causes of extreme poverty, so we spend a lot of money on drug addiction projects, homeless people, victims of domestic abuse, teenage prostitutes, people with Alzheimer’s, young carers and the elderly, a quarter of whom are still living below the poverty line. In Africa the work is more varied and includes street kids, slum dwellers, people living with AIDS and no access to HRV's, children at risk of malaria, mothers with no health care when they give birth, and people with mental illness who have been marginalised. The projects are ALL remarkable. We're good at raising money, but actually, we're best at spending it in amazing ways which give long term help to people leading ridiculously hard lives.

What has been your favourite moment?

Persuading 6 celebrities to go into the Big Brother house for a week, which became the first ever celebrity reality show (sorry!). And asking six mobile phone companies to cancel all their charges on the £5 text, so that Comic Relief gets the full £5. It took 6 months, but they did it - I LOVE them for that. It has raised us literally millions.

What inspires you and what saddens you? 

The British public make me proud - the worse our economic situation, the more we give to charity. That's an incredible statistic. And cynics sadden me. I just don't get it - I really don't. It's one thing not to want to help people having incredibly tough lives, I understand that, but it's another to write or speak aggressively against organisations that are trying to make some sort of difference. What's that all about?

Red Nose Day takes place on Friday 15 March. The Undergraduated Big Band and Royal Holloway Gospel Choir are putting on a joint concert in the Windsor Auditorium (7pm doors for a 7:30pm start), with all proceeds going towards Comic Relief. RAG will be around campus collecting donations and putting on a sale at the Student’s Union on Friday night http://www.su.rhul.ac.uk/ 


Comment on this page

Did you find the information you were looking for? Is there a broken link or content that needs updating? Let us know so we can improve the page.

Note: If you need further information or have a question that cannot be satisfied by this page, please call our switchboard on +44 (0)1784 434455.

This window will close when you submit your comment.

Add Your Feedback