Monday, March 22, 1999 Published at 11:31 GMT
Duke launches £250m child appeal
Duke of York: "We must confront the problem"
The Duke of York has launched a £250m fundraising campaign aimed at eradicating all cruelty to children.
It aims to wipe out all cruelty to children in the UK within 20 years.
Flanked by Tony Blair, Cilla Black, schoolgirl soprano Charlotte Church and Andrew Lloyd Webber, he became the first signatory of the NSPCC Pledge To End Cruelty To Children.
He said: "Countless children and young people throughout the nation desperately need the services of the NSPCC.
Other celebrities and politicians supporting the campaign include Zoe Ball, Boyzone, Vinnie Jones, Gary Lineker, Sir Cliff Richard and Baroness Thatcher.
The campaign has already begun to broadcast hard-hitting TV advertisements, featuring the Spice Girls and England football captain Alan Shearer.
"The advertising campaign does have to be hard-hitting," the duke told the Press Association.
"If we can make people aware of the problem, we're half-way to fixing it. We've got to confront it," he said.
The charity hopes that more than one million people will sign the pledge within a year.
The duke said: "It is a long-term aim. The NSPCC hopes to raise £250m over a period of five years as an investment for the next 20 years."
Five key areas
The £250m will pay for a range of new services, enabling the NSPCC to help 100,000 children a year - five times more than it currently reaches.
The charity has divided its drive into five themes:
Within these areas, it plans specific projects including:
The duke, 39, has two daughters, Princess Beatrice, 10, and Princess Eugenie, nine on Tuesday.
His aunt, Princess Margaret, remains the charity president, but the duke said there would be no "lines of interference".
"Princess Margaret will still be in charge day-to-day and will campaign in the regions while I'm in London," he said.
35,000 children at risk
The NSPCC said statistics show that every week at least one child is killed through abuse or neglect.
The homicide rate for infants is almost five times higher than that faced by the rest of the population.
About 35,000 children are on child protection registers.
There are at least 110,000 adults living in the UK who have been convicted of sex offences against children.
More than a quarter of all rape victims are children.