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Tuesday, March 2, 1999 Published at 19:33 GMT


Lenny sees red over nose ban

Lenny Henry : Dismayed by ban at Roman Catholic school

Comedian Lenny Henry, who received his CBE on Tuesday, has said he is saddened by news that a headteacher has banned his pupils from taking part in Red Nose Day.

The Roman Catholic headmaster of the Rosary School in Birmingham, objects to the charity supporting some family planning groups and has told his 450 pupils not to wear red noses or collect any money at their primary school.

Lenny Henry: The charity does so much good
James Caffery said it would be wrong for Christians to support the causes for which the charity raises money.

The charity has raised £135m since it started in 1985 and spends less than 1% on family planning projects but it is this that angers Mr Caffery.

He said: "I would not want any money to go from this school to supplement the work of these anti-social and evil charities which promote contraception, sterilisation and abortion."

'So much good'

Henry said he was dismayed by Mr Caffery's attitude.

"How strange that someone should stop such a wonderful thing that children want to be involved with.

"I think he should really think about the work Comic Relief does. It does so much good, so why stop it?"

A Comic Relief spokeswoman said the charity had never funded abortions and said the work it financed in family planning was to enable people to make informed decisions about their lives.

After being awarded the CBE by the Queen, Henry said: "I feel very humbled by the company I'm in - so many worthy people are receiving awards - I feel very honoured to be here.

"It's an extraordinary experience and I would never have dreamed that I would be so fortunate.

"My only sadness is that my mum died in August - but I think she's here with me in spirit," he said.

Comic Relief will 'break all records'

Henry, 40, first found fame on the TV show New Faces in 1974, and later on the Channel 4 show Saturday Night Live - but he is now better known for his work for the charity Comic Relief.

Speaking of the moment he received his award from the Queen, he said: "When I looked at the ribbon on the CBE, I thought it would never go over my head - but it did.

"The Queen mentioned Comic Relief and my career - and congratulated me. I told her I thought this year we're going to break all records.

"We've raised over £100m in 14 years and last time, in 1997, we managed £27m.

"The British people are very in tune with what's going on in the world and want to help," he said.

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