Initial figures from tonight’s Glasgow 2014 Opening Ceremony indicate that more than two and a half million  pounds has already been raised to help UNICEF save and change children’s lives right across the Commonwealth.

This impressive figure has been raised from the UK public responding by text, 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.

In a unique ceremony which saw children and young people celebrated as the “heart and soul” of these Games, in which a young girl from Jamaica carried the Baton into the stadium for its final journey to HRH The Queen, people united across the Commonwealth to support the work of the world’s leading children’s organisation via text or url donations.

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 extra-ordinary – to make a positive difference to thousands of young lives.”

The figure raised tonight will be  added to the £ 1.2 million pounds already raised for the ground breaking partnership between UNICEF,  Glasgow 2014 and the Commonwealth Games Federation before the Opening Ceremony, and with overnight income figures still coming in from other territories, 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.”

David Grevemberg, CEO 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 tomorrow (today) 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.  There will be events taking place around Glasgow in support of UNICEF, and exciting sporting merchandise is available via www.unicef.org.uk/glasgowshop. Anyone wanting to support UNICEF’s work can give £5 very simply by texting DONATE to 70020

"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. "

--ENDS--

Notes to editors:

For UK media enquiries, please contact Sarah Vincent, sarahv@unicef.org.uk, +447814 447935 or Jess Ord, jesso@unicef.org.uk, +447721 219 711

For international media enquiries, please contact Kirsten Ferguson, kirstenf@unicef.org.uk, +447979 159221

ABOUT UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  UNICEF UK raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work and advocates for lasting change for children everywhere. We are a UK registered charity, supported entirely by voluntary donations. We do not receive any money from the UN. For more information, please visit unicef.org.uk