Typhoon Haiyan: British aid total tops £44m after celebrity telethon

Jamie Oliver and Amanda Holden were among the stars taking donations from callers

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The Independent Online

A celebrity telethon in support of the Philippines has been hailed as an "overwhelming success" - helping to bring the total raised by the British public to £44 million.

Jamie Oliver and Amanda Holden were among the stars at BT Tower taking donations from callers for the Disasters Emergency Committee's (DEC) Philippines Typhoon Appeal.

More than £90,000 was raised directly from the star-studded event, which took place in a room with a spectacular view across London as day turned to night.

Clearing their diaries to answer phones at the telethon - launched by a tweet from One Direction - many of the celebrities said they felt it was a chance for them to help.

Chef Oliver said it was a "pleasure" to take part in the fundraising spectacle.

"A lot of us that are in the public eye don't really know what we can do other than pledge ourselves, but also if we can get other people to pledge, that's kind of what our job is, really - spread the word. It's a pleasure to do it," he said.

DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed said that while last night was a great success, "more money is still needed".

"Last night was an overwhelming success with an unprecedented number of celebrities giving their time to take donations on the phones.

"We want to say thank you to all of them and to each and every member of the public who took the time to ring in to donate.

"Enormous thanks goes to BT, who has been incredibly supportive of the appeal to help raise even more funds.

"However, to continue delivering essential emergency aid and to help hundreds of thousands of people rebuild their lives, more money is still needed," he said.

Other celebrities taking part in the telethon were actor Alan Rickman, comedian Stephen Merchant, models Daisy Lowe and Poppy Delevingne, and stars from Downton Abbey.

Meanwhile, the Big Lottery Fund is donating up to £5 million to help the relief effort.

The organisation, which distributes funds for good causes raised through lottery ticket sales, said it will make the cash available to UK-based charities working with communities in the disaster-ravaged country.

More than 150,000 people have backed a petition calling for a £12 million EuroMillions prize to be donated to the Disaster Relief Fund to help people in the Philippines.

The Big Lottery Fund (BLF) says it cannot make general donations to emergency appeals, nor does it believe its funds are best used for immediate disaster relief.

Instead, the £5 million will be offered to "help the long-term process of rebuilding lives and livelihoods", it said.

The BLF will now consult organisations working in the disaster area to pinpoint where funding can best be deployed, as well as with bodies such as the DEC and Bond, the UK membership body for organisations working in international development.

BLF chairman Peter Ainsworth said: "Like millions across the country, I was shocked by the scenes of devastation and despair broadcast on our screens in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

"The Big Lottery Fund's mission is to support people and communities most in need and it is therefore important that we are able to respond in this way, complementing and adding value to others already working to support the rebuilding of communities and infrastructure in the Philippines.

"I want us to work with those UK bodies on the ground in the Philippines to establish how best we enable them to help communities to rebuild their lives. Once we are clear what is needed, we will make sure that our funds flow to those projects which will have the most impact."

Four million people have been forced to leave their homes since Typhoon Haiyan struck almost two weeks ago, while the death toll is expected to exceed 10,000.

Donations can be made to the DEC Philippines Typhoon Appeal on the DEC 24-hour hotline on 0370 6060900, by visiting www.dec.org.uk, by donating over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or by sending a cheque.

People can also donate £5 by texting 'SUPPORT' to 70000.