Celebrity watch

Bill Bailey supports International Animal Rescue.

Bill Bailey, the comedian and team captain from Never Mind the Buzzcocks, has filmed an online fundraising appeal for Sussex-based charity International Animal Rescue, to help rescue bears that are forced to perform on the streets of India.

The charity runs sanctuaries in India to care for rescued bears, but it needs further funding to provide extra land and facilities for the animals. In the past four years, it has rescued nearly 400 bears, but estimates that several hundred more are still on the streets.

Bailey visited India with the charity nearly two years ago and subsequently became its patron.

Carrie Colliss, development director at International Animal Rescue, says: "Although the footage is harrowing, we hope people will react positively to it when they realise that they really can make a difference to the lives of these bears and help us put a permanent end to their suffering."

Ben Fogle, the television presenter and one-time Castaway contestant, is the new president of the Council for National Parks. He follows in the footsteps of Brian Blessed, who has been president for the past six years. Fogle says: "I believe the work of CNP is vital for the conservation of our world-class national parks."

Beverley Knight, the soul singer, is supporting a campaign by the EMI Music Sound Foundation to improve music lessons for primary school children. She says: "There are proven links between productive music lessons and a better all-round development of young children, so surely every child deserves to reap these benefits. It's really important for teachers to get a proper amount of training in the subject so they can deliver exciting and uplifting lessons."

Actor Denise Welch will lead sponsored walkers on a five-mile sponsored walk at the Children's Society's Footsteps for Childhood event, which takes place on 15 September.

Members of the public can bid for dates with Ben Lunt and Lianne Dauban, stars of the reality TV series Shipwrecked, to raise money for Samaritans' 24:7 appeal.Dates with Miss Great Britain finalist Racheal Baughan and Big Issue founder John Bird are also up for grabs. Other prizes include signed football shirts worn by band members from Razorlight, Goldie Lookin' Chain, Blue and 5ive during the charity's recent Soccer Six celebrity match. Lunt says: "If you're not coping, talk to Samaritans. A problem shared is a problem halved, and bottling things up just eats you away."

Graeme Le Saux, the former England and Chelsea footballer, has been an ambassador for international health charity Sightsavers International since 1997. 

He recently returned from visiting Sightsavers projects in Nigeria. He went to rural villages near the central Nigerian town of Kaduna, where 20 years ago the charity began its work to combat river blindness, which is caused by worms that breed in rivers.

In 2000, Le Saux supported Sightsavers' Kick Blindness Out of Africa campaign. Last year, he took part in its photography exhibition, 'Treasured', providing a picture of the scene he would miss most were he to go blind - a poppy field in Majorca.

Le Saux says: "As a professional footballer, sight is fundamental. You have regular eye tests and your eyes give you the information you need to make a decision to hit the ball."

Neil Thorn, head of communications at Sightsavers, says: "Graeme shows enthusiasm for our work."


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