Donations during the opening ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games raised £2.5m for Unicef
The impressive figure was expected to be just the start of the unique fundraising initiative, which is the first of its kind at a major sporting event ever.
At just after 11pm last night, viewers of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony around the world were invited to text a £5 donation to Unicef in a bid to create the biggest single moment of giving ever.
The moment came after after a heartfelt appeal by James McAvoy and Sir Chris Hoy live in Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow.
More than 500,000 members of the UK public donated by text within an hour. Figures from other territories and online donations are still being counted.
As the Commonwealth athletes entered the stadium to mark the start of the games, viewers were shown films featuring six Glasgwegians who visited Unicef projects around the world.
In a unique ceremony which saw children and young people celebrated as the “heart and soul” of the Glasgow games, a young girl from Jamaica carried the baton into the stadium for its final journey to the Queen.
The big idea is that, for a single moment, one billion of us come together to do something extraordinary: to make a positive difference to thousands of young lives – Ewan MacGregor
The detail of what was to come was hinted at by Unicef ambassador Ewan McGregor, who burst into the opening countdown to urge viewers to be ready for something extraordinary.
He said: “Right now thousands of world-class athletes are here in Glasgow. And over the next eleven days they’ll be doing their best to come first. But tonight, they’re asking all of us watching to take a moment to think about the children in our Commonwealth who usually come last. Last to get clean water. Last to get vaccinated. Last to get an education. Last to just get a fair chance in life.
“So they’ve teamed up with Unicef – people dedicated to putting children first. And now we’d like to team up with you. Because the big idea is that, for a single moment during our show, one billion of us come together to do something extraordinary – to make a positive difference to thousands of young lives.”
The overall figure raised will be added to the £ 1.2m already raised for the groundbreaking partnership between Unicef, Glasgow 2014 and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) before the opening ceremony.
|Katy U'ren, a teacher from Drumchapel High School visited Bangladesh to see the work of Unicef|
Unicef UK executive director David Bull said many millions of children’s lives would be transformed.
“With this money we will be able to achieve our joint ambition with Glasgow 2014 to reach every child in Scotland and children in every single Commonwealth country to give them a brighter future,” said Bull.
“We will do this in a whole range of ways; by helping ensure children have the best start in life and grow up in an environment where their rights are respected; protecting children from disease and exploitation; providing life-saving food and vaccines to help children grow up healthy and safe, and by giving children the chance to take part in sport – many for the first time.
"Thank you to everyone who held their hands and heads high tonight and voted to Put Children First. The children and young people across the Commonwealth were absolutely the heart and soul of tonight’s electrifying event, and iconic images of Jennica delivering the Baton into the stadium for its final journey to HRH The Queen, alongside Unicef ambassador Sir Chris Hoy, will live in our collective memories for ever.”
We will be able to achieve our joint ambition with Glasgow 2014 to reach every child in Scotland and children in every single Commonwealth country to give them a brighter future
David Grevemberg, chief executive of Glasgow 2014, said: “From the moment that Ewan McGregor broke onto our screens during the countdown and told us about the big idea, the children who are often last in today’s world were put first.
“I am immensely proud that, working with Unicef, the CGF and the creative team at Jack Morton, we have changed the landscape for sporting legacies. We all know sport has a tremendous power to unite, and tonight, here in Glasgow, we united people across the Commonwealth in the world’s first ever global fundraiser for children.”
As the sport gets underway there will be more opportunities for people to donate to the Put Children First appeal; a Unicef film including one of the ambassadors features in the opening ceremony will be shown before each sporting event in stadiums throughout the games.
"For Unicef the real work starts here,” said David Bull. “We will use every pound, dollar and cent raised through this appeal to save and change children's lives across the Commonwealth, and we will seek to raise even more through events which will continue throughout the games. If everyone involved can give just a little to this cause then together we can achieve so much. "
There will be events taking place around Glasgow in support of Unicef, and sporting merchandise is also available. Anyone wanting to support Unicef's work can give £5 by texting DONATE to 70020.