AT 92 years old, Peggy Barson remembers red noses flooding Oxfordshire for the first time 25 years ago today.
It was the first ever Red Nose Day to raise money for charity Comic Relief and spread cheer for a good cause, now an annual tradition.
She watched the Comic Relief shows on TV and sold red noses for the charity collection at the box office of the then Apollo Theatre in George Street.
Ms Barson, from Radley, said: “I remember there were a lot of red noses around.
“It was a lot smaller thing back then when it first started though. It definitely wasn’t as big as it is now.
“The shows on TV are still very interesting, people put a lot into it. “We need something to brighten everything up at the moment and that is definitely a good way of doing it.”
It was at the Apollo Theatre – now the New Theatre – where Ms Barson worked for 71 years and at which the county’s biggest event was held in 1988.
The Who Nose Show starred Oxford-born comic Hugh Laurie and the other half of his comedy double act, Stephen Fry.
There were also hopes Boy George could take part in the event as he was signed to then Kidlington-based entrepreneur Richard Branson’s record label Virgin.
The county welcomed more than 200,000 Red Noses to its Oxfam distribution centre in Murdock Road, Bicester, to be sent out all over the UK.
Since then 66 million red noses have been sold nationwide and can still be bought from either Oxfam shops or Sainsburys.
This year’s Red Nose Day will be on March 15 and the fundraising continues to benefit charities in Oxfordshire as well as abroad.
Last week Comic Relief launched its second Red Nose Day Community Cash grant scheme offering 50 small organisations a share of £50,000 in Oxfordshire.
The project will see between £500 to £1,000 given to 50 chosen groups.
Oxfordshire Mind’s latest project is funded by a £38,000 grant from Comic Relief.
The project – called Football, Fitness and Wellbeing – is launching in June with the support of Oxford United Football Club.
It aims to use football to engage with 180 vulnerable young men over three years to improve their mental health by taking them through a 10 week programme to coaching, fitness training and mental wellbeing support.
Stuart Reid, head of community services at Oxfordshire Mind, said: “It means we can provide practical and emotional support for vulnerable young men in Oxfordshire.
“This is a great investment in individuals and in Oxfordshire’s most disadvantaged communities.”
To find out more or enrol contact Jade Sullivan, at Oxfordshire Mind, on 01865 263744. To apply for a Red Nose Day Community Cash grant go to oxfordshire.org/cp6.php before March 8 or call 01865 798666.