Norfolk shows its heart for Children in Need

Pudsey supporters from all over Norfolk helped the East of England add �1,363,679 to the national �18m raised by the end of last night's BBC Children in Need (CIN) extravaganza.

Hundreds of well-wishers in party mood gathered outside The Forum in Norwich; the East of England focus for this year's televised charity fund-raising marathon, hosted from London by Terry Wogan, Tess Daly and Fearne Cotton.

The trio oversaw the traditional CIN mix of quirky star-studded fun laced with moving mini-documentaries about some of the disadvantaged children and young people in the UK helped by the annual appeal.

Among cheque-bearers at The Forum, where abseilers had draped the iconic glass front with a giant Pudsey banner, were men and women from Norfolk's under-threat Tornado base, RAF Marham.

'They've been backing our campaign for months and turned up in force last night where one of their young chefs did a special Generation Game for the Forum audience,' said the BBC's CIN East producer Shaun Peel.

'Their minds have been on other things recently but it didn't stop them rolling up their sleeves to help Children in Need - they were marvellous.'

Among other cheques handed in were more than �1,800 raised by Norfolk Truck and Van Hire for sponsored spots on one of its vehicles, over �868 from Mile Cross Primary School in Norwich from a range of events, and in exess of �1,000 from Lotus who are back outside Norwich's Chapelfield shopping centre today accepting donations for the cause in return for the chance to sit in one of their top-of-the-range sports cars.

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TV viewers enjoyed celebrity acts including Cheryl Cole, Formula 1 stars Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, Take That, plus Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing specials, and TV history was made when EastEnders and Coronation Street united in an exclusive mini-episode.

At the Forum Mary Berry, from BBC Two's The Great British Bake Off, Michelin-starred chef Galton Blackiston and Masterchef finalist Dr Tim Kinnaird all took part in fun events.

Mr Peel added: 'The inherent generosity of people in our region is amazing. Their bank balances might be affected in these troubled times but their hearts certainly haven't been.'

Cash from scores of events elsewhere in the county will be trickling in over the next few weeks. Last year over �39m was finally raised nationally for the appeal.